In the modern world, a working woman is not an unfamiliar sight. Career aspirations do not discriminate between men and women; so it is not a surprise when thousands of young and middle aged women have joined the workforce, strengthening it further. However, every action has its perks and cons. So was the observation when studies revealed that working women had a 70% higher likelihood of getting breast cancer than normal housewives. The line might seem unfavourable and discriminative for feminists. But medical science has stood its ground, with Dr Tetyana Pudrovska stating five unshakable reasons which might have resulted in this trend.
One of the primary problems stated by researchers is irregular breastfeeding for working mothers. Many mothers, due to their working hours, are unable to breastfeed their babies at the right time. Some mothers even make an early substitution to bottled milk or other alternatives, thus removing the habit of breastfeeding. This is strongly discouraged, as breastfeeding can decrease chances of breast cancer by about 5% to 10%, according to recent studies. It might also reduce chances of deaths caused by breast cancer.
This is another significant cause of worry. Researchers believe those working women who postpone the activity of childbirth until their late-thirties or even forties due to their job ambitions may face a greater risk of breast cancer due to hormonal alternations caused by pregnancy. Oestrogen, or the child-bearing hormone, occurs in abundance during pregnancy. However, in older women, breast cells are more unable to respond to changes caused due to oestrogen. As a result, complications occur, leading to breast cancer development. In working women below the age of 50, breast cancer is more aggressively growing and harder to treat.
Stress at Work
The demands of the modern world have reached great extents, with employers putting ever increasing pressure on their employees to perform and provide results. But, amidst this rat race, working women often fall prey to intense stresses; which they can bear, but their body cannot. According to studies, there is an increased risk of breast cancer among women, who are in career-oriented jobs and experience regular job strain; but not among part-timers or those in lighter, lower status jobs. In fact, stressful jobs can increase chances of development of breast cancer by up to 50%, according to a study.
Several studies (not all of them) reported components of air pollution as a possible stimuli generator for breast cancer. Such components, namely fine particulate matter and Nitrogen dioxide, are not commonly found in air of normal home environments. However, in thickly populated industrial areas, as well as in urban cities with huge volumes of traffic, these particles abound in the air. Thus, working women, who get significantly more exposure to this air than housewives, are suspected to be more affected by it, thus pushing up the chances of breast cancer.
Lack of Sleep
This is generally seen in slightly older working women. As working women try to balance in-house as well as professional responsibilities, they lose track of time, and sacrifice sleep in order to increase available time. It might seem productive, but has damaging effects on the body including increased risks of breast cancer.
Thus, all of these reasons combined causes breast cancer to frequent in working women more than homemakers, by even a margin up to as high as 70%.