Menstruation: The Other Time of the Month (cont.)

There's No Escape

Face it: Whatever the time of the month, you just can't escape those hormones. British researchers have found that women with breast cancer live longer when surgery is performed during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle -- when estrogen levels are generally higher.

The researchers hypothesize that having more estrogen in the body makes cancer cells less sticky. They can separate, enter the bloodstream, and travel throughout the body, spreading cancer.

But before you start worrying about rescheduling your breast cancer surgery, talk with your doctor. The study was small -- just 112 women -- and other researchers have shown differing results.

Length of your cycle appears to matter, too. Woman with fewer menstrual cycles within a year or irregular cycles may be protected against breast and ovarian cancer, while one study showed short menstrual cycles to be a risk factor for lung cancer.

Published April 25, 2005.

SOURCES: Pharmacotherapy, May 2000. Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 4, 2001. Cancer, November 1999. Mary H.H. Ensom, PharmD, department of pharmacy, Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Sandra Carson, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. Veronica Ravnikar, MD, St. Barnabas Medical Center, N.J. The Population Council. The Illinois Department of Public Health. WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Female Reproductive System."

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Last Editorial Review: 5/10/2005