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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when groups across the country help disseminate information about the disease. So why are so many organizations ignoring some of the biggest risk factors ?

Public health authorities, however, dare not cross the cultural Rubicon with an army of politically incorrect facts – even in the name of women’s health. Not even concern about breast cancer, it turns out, stands in the way of unbridled allegiance to absolute individual freedom, particularly in the arena of sexuality, which so characterizes today’s culture. In saner times, the imperative to recommend what is truly best for women’s health would prevail.

No one would counsel a woman to have a child, say, by her early 20s for the sole purpose of reducing breast cancer risk. But, simply put, a woman can do nothing more protective than having several children, beginning at an early age, and breastfeeding them all. Women who never give birth (including nuns) are at higher risk; having a first child later in life (over age 30) also heightens susceptibility.

The steroids taken by more than 100 million women around the world to prevent pregnancy — oral contraceptives – are known human carcinogens, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In 2006, the Mayo Clinic concluded that a woman who takes OC before her first full-term pregnancy stands a 44 percent greater chance of contracting breast cancer prior to menopause, compared with those who don’t take OC before giving birth. Using OC for four of more years prior to first full-term pregnancy is even more risky.

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