Chapter F1. The 'Early Bird' Gets the Breast Cancer Protection 
                         (Brent Rooney)

Alice  and  Barbara  are  identical  twins.  Alice  had her first and only
pregnancy at age 18 giving birth  to  Amy but Barbara waited until she was
33 to have her only pregnancy, a full-term birth (Betsy).  Everything else
being about equal, who  has  the  higher  breast  cancer  risk,  Alice  or
Barbara?  Answer:  Barbara has about 68% higher risk of breast cancer than

Is it not just good enough to have a first before age 30?

For  many  decades  it  has  been  well  known  by cancer researchers that
women who gave birth had  lower  breast  cancer risk than childless women.
Is any particular birth any more important that others?  Lead by Harvard's
Dr. Brian MacMahon  the  answer  was  very  dramatic: the  first full-term
birth was by far  the  most  important in reducing BC risk. (Bulletin WHO,
1970)  A woman  who  has  a  first full-term birth before age 20 has about
1/2 the BC risk  as  women  who  wait until after age 35, according to the
"MacMahon"  data.  In  1983  this  data  was  reanalyzed  to  give  a more
precise answer ( International  Journal  of  Cancer, B  MacMahon, et  al.)
Every year a  woman  waits  to  have  her first full-term pregnancy (FFTP)
increases  her  BC  risk  by  3.5% ( compounded );  this is relative risk.  
Compared to a  woman  with  an  birth  at  age 18 the increase in relative
BC risks  for  women  at  older ages at FFTP (first birth) are as follows:

     Age at First    % increase in 
      birth (FFTP)   relative BC risk
          20             7%
          24  --------- 23%
          28            41%
          32  --------- 63%
          36            86%
          39  ---------105%

Any confirmation of the "MacMahon" findings?

Many subsequent studies verified 'early first birth protection' and it is
quite  well  accepted  by  medical  researchers (called epidemiologists).
For example, in  1996  researchers  found  that  each  one  year delay of 
first  birth  increased  BC  risk  by  4.65%  compounded  ( International
J  Cancer, pp. 187-189 ).  Dr.  Susan  M.  Love  is  a  prominent  breast
cancer  surgeon  ( and  prominent  feminist ).  Dr. Love  wrote, "And the
younger  you  are  when  you  have  your  first  child,  the  lower  your
[breast  cancer]  risk." (Dr. Susan Love's  Breast  Book, 1995, page 242)

Other advantages from an 'early bird' birth:

     1. assurance that  a  woman will not be childless  by menopause time
     2. ovarian cancer and  endometrial  cancer risk reduced by about 1/2
     3. reduces total exposure to EXCESS  estrogen  (since a first  birth
        lowers estrogen levels)
     4. women with births will on average live  longer than women with NO
        births.  on  a  net  basis, birth  is  a  net life saver for mom.
        married women without births have 16%  higher all-cause mortality
        than  married women  with  births (British Medical Journal, 1988,
        pp. 391-395)
     5. More opportunity to breast feed and slash BC risk even more
     6. less risk of osteoporosis (via having any birth)
     7. there  is  some  evidence  that women under age 20 who breastfeed 
        have more BC  risk reduction (than those who start after age 20).
     8. substantially reduced  risk  of  suicide during the pregnancy and
        in the 12 months after the birth

But what do I do, if I missed my early birth opportunity?

An early  first  birth  is  not  the 'be all and end all' for good health
for women; you probably know  childless  older women in very good health.
Such women, however, should  place  special  emphasis on an optimum diet,
should consistently exercise, & (assuming her doctor approves) do many of
the 'health builders' recommended  in  this  document  (including NATURAL
progesterone creams). 
Good health is like an orchestra, requiring many 'instruments' to provide
a beautiful  tune.  If  you  want  to  maximize  your chances of avoiding
cancer,  there  are  some  'new'  books  that  can  help  you;  (most  of
the advice also helps you reduce the most important risk for women: heart
     Breast  Health  (Charles  B. Simone, MD, Avery Publishing Group)
       [Simone's book is the most comprehensive BC prevention book]
     The Breast Cancer Prevention Program (Dr. Samuel S. Epstein,
       David Steinman, 1997)

Also helpful are:
     How to Prevent Breast Cancer (Vinton C. Vint, MD, et al.)
     Breast Cancer? Breast Health! (Susan S. Weed)

The following two articles are useful:
     Breast Health Update (Charles B. Simone), Health Counselor mag., 
       June/July 1996, pp. 17-23
     No Breast Cancer for My Daughter - How to Reduce the Risk (Brent
        Rooney), ALIVE magazine, July/August 1995), pp. 17-18

More Recommended Reading:
Every Woman's Book (Paavo Airola, ND); informs woman about true prevention
Return to the Joy of Health (Zoltan Rona, MD, Jeanne Marie Martin)
Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book (Dr. Susan M. Love, 1995)
The general ideas presented in this article first appeared in the article:
An Early First Birth for Breast Cancer Prevention (Brent Rooney,
ALIVE, April 1997, #174, pp. 34-35)

ALIVE magazine (published monthly)
7436 Fraser Park Drive
Burnaby, Canada
V5J 5B9

One year subscription for U.S. residents - $40 [1998] 
[your author has no direct or indirect financial connection to ALIVE
Brent Rooney:
Previous ALIVE articles: No Breast Cancer for My Daughter   
                           How to Reduce the Risk
                        (July/August 1995, pp. 17-18) 
                         An Early First Birth for
                         Breast Cancer Prevention
                        (April 1997, pp. 35-36

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copyright Brent Rooney ( [email protected] )