First of all, let me start by saying that just because your a lesbian does not mean that you are automatically at a higher risk for breast cancer.
However, having one or more of the risk factors below might put you in that category. A lesbian without the risk factors is at no greater risk than a heterosexual woman for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors include:
Women whose mothers, grandmothers or sisters have had breast cancer are two to three times more likely to develop breast cancer. However, greater numbers of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.
The risks are higher among women who have never had (and breastfed) a baby or whose first childbirth occurred after the age of thirty.
The risk is reduced by as much as 50 percent for women who have had one child in countries such as the US.
Early first period (before age 11) and late menopause (after age 52) both increase risk.
DietHigh-fat, low-fiber diet increases the risk of Breast Cancer. The risk also increases with women who are overweight.
Risk increases with age. This disease is rare in women under the age of thirty. Women over fifty make up a larger number of breast cancer cases.
Women who consume two to five alcoholic drinks a day have a higher risk of breast cancer than do non-drinkers. (Research has not shown that lesbians drink more than the general population, however, they do have a greater history of problems with alcohol.)
Research has shown that women who smoke have a 30% higher risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who have never smoked. Research has also shown that 25% of lesbians said they were smokers compared to 19% of heterosexual women in a 2007 Harris Interactive survey.
Specific alterations in certain genes, such as those in the breast cancer genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2), make women more susceptible to breast cancer.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Recent evidence suggests that menopausal women who have long-term exposure (greater than 10 years) to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.
In the United States, white women from upper-socioeconomic classes living in urban areas are more at risk for breast cancer than other women, for reasons researchers do not yet understand.
Research has not yet proven whether there are breast cancer risk risks involved in a number of environmental exposures, including radiation, UV rays in sunlight, artificial sweeteners, pesticides and electromagnetic fields that surround electronic devices like microwave ovens and cell phones.
Another issue that lead researchers to believe that Lesbians are at a higher risk is due to the fact that lesbians are less likely to seek routine health care because of the discomfort of coming out to their health care providers and less access to health insurance. With fewer doctor visits, lesbian are less likely to have mammograms and professional breast exams. Studies also show that lesbian women are less likely to perform breast self-exam regularly. For these reasons, lesbians women may be less likely to have cancers detected at earlier, more treatable, stages.
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