The tween years have always been a time of upheaval. Filled with hormonal changes, growth spurts and relationship dramas, preteens have no shortage of things to stress about. But now tween girls can add another worry to their list ... breast cancer.
Now, don't panic. Breast cancer in tweens is still quite rare. Only about 7 percent of breast cancer cases occur in patients under the age of 40. But medical experts say they are seeing an increase in these extreme cases ... and no one knows why.
Dr. Marisa Weiss, founder of Breastcancer.org
, a breast health Web site, suggests that everyday pollutants such as chemicals including bisphenol A (BPA) and dioxins could bombard hormone receptors, causing abnormalities in the breast.
Did you know that the breast is the only organ in men and women that is formed after you're born? I didn't. But apparently it is that later development that makes breasts vulnerable to changes and environmental assaults.
According to Weiss, the ages between 8-18 are critical because "that's when they're constructing their breast tissue. That's when what they eat, drink, medicines they take and personal products they use, how they use their body becomes the building blocks in the construction project as they lay down the foundation of their future breast health."
Despite the recent increase in cases of breast cancer among younger women, health experts still discourage routine mammograms for younger women because their breast tissues are dense, making it harder to detect abnormalities and resulting in unnecessary biopsies. Mammograms are recommended for women in their 40s, unless there is a family history of breast cancer.