Moles May Be Link to Breast Cancer Risk - Sisters Network Chicago Chapter

"What's up with the common mole?"

Moles. We all have them in one form or another and they commonly impact our bodies as we get older and increase our exposure to the outside elements. The common mole (doctors refer to them as nevi) are small growths on your skin that are usually pink, tan or brown and have a distinct edge. These moldes develop when pigment cells grow and cluster in one area. Most adults have about 10 to 40 moles, mostly above the waist on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. While common moles aren't cancerous, people who have more than 50 common moles have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Now two studies seem to have found a link between moles and breast cancer. Both studies suggest that women with more moles are more likely to develop breast cancer. Both studies were published in the June 10, 2014 issue of the PLoS Medicine. The abstracts are entitled: "Association between Melanotytic Nevi and Risk of Breast Diseases: The Frence E3N Prospective Cohort" and "Association between Cutaneous Nevi and Breast Cancer in the Nurses’ Health Study: A Prospective Cohort Study”

Both of these studies were prospective studies. A prospective study follows a group of similar people who are different in terms of the factors that are being studied to see how the factors affect rates of a certain outcome. In the French E3N study, the researchers followed 89,902 women to see if the number of moles they had were linked to breast cancer risk. The women in the study were ages 40 to 65 and were followed from June 1990 to June 2008. Most of the women in the study were school teachers.

"The results of these studies suggest that the number of moles a woman has could some day be used to help calculate breast cancer risk."

During the study, 5,956 breast cancers were diagnosed in the women. Overall, women who had “very many” moles had a 13% higher risk of breast cancer than women who had no moles. This difference was significant, which means it was probably because of the difference in the number of moles and not just due to chance.

Still, when the researchers factored in any personal history of benign breast disease or family history of breast cancer (both of which increase breast cancer risk), the link between moles and higher breast cancer risk wasn’t significant, which means it could have just happened by chance. The French researchers then did another analysis of the information, this time only looking at premenopausal women. Even when the researchers factored in any history of benign breast disease or breast cancer, the link between having very many moles and a higher risk of breast cancer stayed significant, which means it was likely due to the difference in the number of moles.

Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer -- being a woman, your age, and your genetics, for example -- can't be changed. Other factors can be changed by making healthy lifestyle choices, including: a) eating a healthy diet that’s low in processed foods and sugar; b) avoiding alcohol; c) maintaining a healthy weight; d) exercising daily; and e) not smoking.

By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.

SOURCE: Breastcancer.org - Article Published July 8, 2014