Elizabeth Edwards faced at least 2 risk factors
Media reports say Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards, died on Tuesday from cancer at her home in Chapel Hill NC. She was 61.
On Monday doctors reportedly advised the Edwards family that Elizabeth did not need any additional treatment as any treatment would no longer help her. They did not expect Ms. Edwards to live more than a couple of months.
Ms. Edwards was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at age 55 in 2004. Having a cancer at a younger age means the disease is fairly aggressive. The cancer was found to have spread to other organs like the lungs and other locations in 2007.
Doctors gave up treatment when they found the cancer had spread to the liver and Ms. Elizabeth Edwards was gravely ill.
It seems apparent that Ms. Elizabeth Edwards faced at least a couple of risk factors for breast cancer. She gave her first birth to her son Wade Edwards at age 30. Wade died in a car accident at 16 in 1996.
Having a child at an older age or never having any children leaves a woman at high risk of developing breast cancer as breast tissue can only become matured after a full term pregnancy. Before the breast gets matured, the breast is highly susceptible to damages from various risk factors.
Another possible risk factor Ms. Elizabeth Edwards might have faced is her long exposure to estrogen. Ms. Edwards gave her last birth to her another son Jack at age 50. Having a child at such an old age means she probably entered puberty early.
Having early puberty and late menopause means a woman may have to expose herself to high levels of estrogen for an additional 10 to 15 years. Estrogen promotes cancer growth.
Estrogen is present in many medical products like contraceptives and hormone therapy.
Breast cancer is diagnosed in more than 175,000 women each year in the United States and about 50,000 women die each year from the disease in the country. As estimated, one in seven women in the country are expected to suffer breast cancer.
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