Can Antibiotics Cause Breast Cancer?

By: Daniel K. Hoh
By: Daniel K. Hoh

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association associates antibiotics to breast cancer, but experts say it's not something you should worry about.

The study found that women who were diagnosed with breast cancer tended to have taken more antibiotics in life than women who didn't have breast cancer.

"There may be a problem," says WKU professor of public health Dr. Wayne Higgins.

"It's something we need to do more research on and study in greater depth. It does not tell us conclusively that there is a [causal] link between taking antibiotics and developing breast cancer."

Dr. Higgins says just because there is an association doesn't mean one causes the other. He says for now, women taking antibiotics should keep taking them according to their doctor's instructions.

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What Factors Increase Your Risk for Breast Cancer

  • Having a personal history of a prior breast cancer.

  • Evidence of a specific genetic change increases susceptibility to breast cancer.

  • Having a mother, sister, daughter, or two or more close relatives, such as cousins, with a history of breast cancer, especially if diagnosed at a young age.

  • A diagnosis of a breast condition that may predispose a woman to breast cancer, or a history of two or more breast biopsies for benign breast disease.

  • Women age 45 or older who have at least 75 percent dense tissue on a mammogram are at some increased risk.

  • A slight increase in risk for breast cancer is associated with having a first birth at age 30 or older.

What Can You Do?

  • If you are in your 40s or older, get a mammogram on a regular basis, every one to two years.

  • Talk with your doctor or nurse about planning your personal schedule for screening mammograms and breast exams.

  • Gather as much information as you can about your family history of cancer, breast cancer, and screening mammograms.

  • Call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service for more information about breast cancer and mammograms at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). People with TTY equipment, dial 1-800-332-8615.

  • For the latest information on cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute's website for patients and the public at http://rex.nci.nih.gov or CancerNet at http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov.

Source: http://rex.nci.nih.gov/MAMMOG_WEB/PUBS_POSTERS/FACTS_BC.html (National Institutes of Health).


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