Once you’ve gone through menopause — either naturally as a result of aging, or sooner than expected due to breast cancer treatment — it’s important to pay even closer attention to the health of your bones and heart.
When you’re menopausal, you have lower amounts of the hormone estrogen in the body. We know that estrogen plays a key role in keeping your bones strong and healthy, so having less of it can pose a challenge for your bones. Without the right amounts of nutrients and exercise, your bones can weaken and become prone to breakage.
Researchers are still working to determine how estrogen impacts the heart and blood vessels. Current evidence suggests that estrogen helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and keep blood vessels flexible and open so that blood moves freely. (Estrogen’s apparent good effects on the heart and blood vessels were the reason why many hoped that hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, would lower heart disease risk, but this wasn’t confirmed in large research studies.) We do know that heart disease risk increases for women in menopause, so it’s important to be aware of this and take steps to keep your heart healthy.
In this section of Breastcancer.org, we offer some tips on how to take good care of your bones and your heart after menopause.