I have read all the books and know what people say; genetics,stress, environmental pollution, IGF in dairy products, obesity, alcohol, losing the will to live, early menstruation, not breastfeeding…blah , blah blah…

Things make sense and then the findings are refuted. What do we feel is causing this epidemic? What causes recurrences and secondaries??

I am a DippyKate watcher. I notice she had ovarian hyperstimulation through IVF. So did I. Is it common? A lot of women seem to get this thing when pregnant or in the three or four years following the birth of a child. Or is it not having children?

How about we conduct our own survey and do a top ten (or five) hit list of what we feel is the root cause of our diagnoses? julie

hi, I am triple neg so I do not think mine is related to having kids, I think that the stress from my Mum suddenly passing away 8 months before diagnosed brought this on for me. Otherwise is was being on the mini pill for 15+ years.

I guess this is the big question everyone wants answered and it doesn’t help that its in the papers every day


Sorry have had a glass of wine and am feeling a bit volatile. I will do top eight in no apparent order.

  1. A random series of events we have little control over.

  2. A period of stress or anxiety which results in altered immune system (have read something about stress on adrenals).Or possibly depression.

  3. A genetic determination or susceptibility.

  4. With me- A tendency to drink too much(red wine) to alleviate stress. Also eating crisps etc.

  5. Xeno-oestrogens in food and environment (everything is covered in plastic).

  6. hormones- I have always struggled with pmt, severe period pains, problems conceiving etc.

  7. Hormones in food- used to have a bit of an addiction to beef curry.

  8. Something to do with changes in hormones following the birth of my daughter.

Thanks Lynda
I do realise it is in the papers everday. I am not talking about blame but just our gut instincts. Julie

Hi Julie,

i’m glad you bought this up. i know they say having kids early breast feeding etc should prevent BC but i too think having kids and breast feeding may have bought this on for me.

i had my 3rd daughter at aged 32 and at aged 33 guess what BC made a visit. My BC was er+ and from my understanding thats all to do with hormones, Well when you have kids and breast feed and ween then of the boobies your periods and hormones are all over the show.

don’t get me wrong i don’t blame my kids at all and i wouldn’t be with out them but you are so right there are so many ladies who get BC during or shortly after pregnancy and i don’t think its highlighted and researched enough.

another thing i could put it down to is stress as within a year i lost a gran, nan who were both old but its still stressful and hubby lost his uncle suddenly to a brain tumour ohh and we moved house and got broken into ohh yeah and a week b4 we moved into our new house my youngest daugher 9 months at time fell of the bed and broke her arm!


Hi - this is an interesting thread.

I have always put my BC down to stress - living with a controlling husband and treading on eggshells for many, many years and lately dealing with my 2 daughters. BUT I was on the pill for about 15 years. Had my children at 29 and 31. didn’t breastfeed. Did start drinking quite a bit in the last 5 years. And have always tended to be a bit overweight in the last 10 years. I am 53, diagnosed at 52 with 6cm tumour IDC and HER2 pos.

My mum one of 10 children, lots of females in the family and not one with breast cancer so not genetic.

I don’t think they will ever know what causes it but do their damnest to make us feel guilty

Liz xx

Just rotten luck!

Gosh - this really interesting.

1 Both my diagnoses followed shortly (less than 6 months) after a breast/chest injury to the area and I was told by a nurse once that a lot of women have mentioned this possible connection to her over the years.

2 Also, I was exposed to a lot of nasty chemicals in my late teens and early twenties as part of my job.

3 I had early menstruation and always heavy, painful, periods (breastfed my children - didn’t have the first until I was 26, tho’).

4 First diagnosis came after period of terrible stress - OH nearly killed in appalling industrial accident - and then we had to move house a few weeks later.

5 Second diagnosis however, came, much later, when everything was just hunky-dory???

6 No known family history of breast cancer, but paternal grandmother was, I’ve been told, one of the first women in the UK to be treated with ‘radiotherapy’ when she developed ovarian cancer in her early 20s (how they discovered it, I’m not sure - whilst having a caesarian?) She died in her 80s

Do my experiences/physical make-up chime with anyone else’s?



I don’t have any gut instincts about why I got cancer. All that is known is the main risk factors…and personally I had quite a lot of them…but havign a risk factor for getting breast cancer is not the same as a ‘cause’.

The main risk factors are:

being female

getting older

having children older or not having children

not breast feeding

Early menstrual cycle/late menopause

taking HRT

drinking over a certain amount

For known genetic breast cancer: having BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene (about 5% of breast acncers.)

It is likely that the reasons why any individual gets breast cancer are a complicated combination of genetic, envrionemntal and ‘lifestyle’ factors. Some women don’t have any of the known risk factors and get bc, and vic versa.

I don’t believe (because there has been so much research evidence to show it doesn’t) that stress causes breast cancer though its intersting that so many people with the disease think it does.

Nor do I think there is any evidence that getting tired, or getting knocked on the breast, or deodorants or under wired bras have anything to do with breast cancer…no not even when people tell me loudly that they are convinced one of these caused their cancer.

I do think there is some interesting work which could be done on pregnancy and breast cancer though I don’t think the numbers are actually large…its just we all notice them because I think its a particularly awful thing to happen.

I don’t feel guilty for getting breast cancer. I don’t think it was my fault. I dislike the way that the press sensationalises bits and pieces of research, but get just as annoyed by the unfounded speculation of highly dubious causes which some individuals become convinced caused their cancer. I think there’s also a reluctance in the UK for people to distinguish between well reserached risk factors and nonsense.


Hi Jane,

I am sorry if I upset you. That wasn’t the intention; neither was it to speculate on what the press or anyone else dictates as a risk factor or a cause.

I only started the thread to see if there were any deep held thoughts or convictions people have that may or may not be related to anything; scientific or wildly improbable.

My gut instinct proved invaluable, particlarly at the diagnosis stage and flew in the face of science and investigations.

I am just wondering if other women’s instincts are the same? Sometimes the most wild hypotheses and resultant investigations can open doorways for scientific exploration; maybe leading to prevention and cure.

I too am sick of being told it happened because of this, that and the other. I just posed the question to a community bound together by this horrible disease. It is my way of reaching out and exploring and not sitting back and accepting.


As to why people get recurrences/secondaries

Well at one level we know…cancer is a systemic disaese and when cancer ‘comes back’ it hasn’t really come back…the truth is it never went away. Cells break off from the original tumour (before diagnosis in the first place) and circulate round the body through the blood and lymph systems. Researchers have some idea about the processes by which micro cells find other parts of the body and then start to grow again, but there is still masses to be learned about this process. Why do cells ‘go to sleep’ and then grow again years later in some cases. Why sometimes do the cells find other organs and grow so quickly? The problem is that none of the treatments for breast cancer can guarantee that cells won’t start to grow again…that’s the reason I think that cancer is such a frightening disease. Its not just about losing a breast in my book its about the possibility of losing your life.

There is some sound reserach evidence that some lifestyle changes after EARLY breast cancer may make a difference to whether cancer ‘recurs’…like a low fat diet and exercise for er- and pr- cancers. But the difference such a change might make is still fairly small. Others get obseesed with a ‘healthy lifestyle’ which is OK up to a point for general good health but not if it becomes another burden. Some cancers are more likely to recur than others…we know the clues…vascular invasion, node involvement etc. (Oh…and there is at least one piece of reputable research that shows that stress after an initial breast cancer diagnosis may delay recurrence!)



I understand what you are saying and why you are angry. I am angry too.My Mum was misdiagnosed and dead by 30. Twenty years later I was misdiagnosed again- not dead yet.

I had my childhood ruined and am desperate that my daughter should not have to go through this aswell.

Please read my previous entry. I am not being controversial. I am desperate.

HRT is a definately a contributing factor. They told my mum at the hospital that it was that that had caused her cancer. All my friends mums who have had breast cancer were either told or suspected it was there HRT. I would have taken it as I don’t want to be unbearable for the sake of others during the menopause, but after this I won’t touch it with a barge pole and will be looking for healthy natural alternatives. Any suggestions?


Can only say that I agree with every word you say, in both your postings.
Thank you, as ever, for taking the trouble to write out, yet again, the known facts about this truly awful disease.
What we know about it for certain is bad enough, I personally become so sad when women who are already trying to cope with BC and it’s treatment add into the mix any feelings of guilt that they may have brought it upon themselves.


Juliet and anyone else…

please don’t think anything you have said upsets me. For me engaging my brain has always been my way of facing and living with breast cancer. Emotionally yes I am pretty desperate too, and that makes me more passionate about what I think but I hope what I think is always soundly grounded. I’m all for thinking outside the box but… There is controversy about breast cancer and I don’t think we should shy away from it. So many myths and I hate to see anything which perpetuates them.

Yes HRT def. a risk factor…though some women have horrendous menopause symptoms and may make a considered opinion to go with the risk…and that’s fine. Life is a about weighing up risks. As it happens I had a trouble free menopause and so HRT wasn’t a factor in my case…but still accept it is a risk factor. Baby should not get thrown out with bathwater so to speak.

There are some activists in an organisation called |Breast Cancer Campaign who are very keen at exploring the environental links with bc…getting involved in this kind of campaigning is for many a good way of directing anger at the lack of progress in understanding this disease.

best wishes to you all.


I feel a bit hurt and patronised by your comments. Every woman speculates about the cause of her disease. I just thought that I would open up space for speculation.
What’s the point?I dont want people to feel sad for me because I am trying to work things through in my head.Maybe I do have some guilt but that is an entirely normal reaction.
Think I will just go back to being an observer. I just thought it was a discussion forum.

Had not read our last comment before posting. Sorry. Julie

Hey Julie
It is a forum, and a place you should feel free to put forward questions, thoughts, feelings, and if you wish to speculate(as most of us do at certain times in our lives) then that is ok too. It is really tough working through this stuff and it can be very lonely out there. Don’t feel you should retreat. Alice

I also suspect (and I do mean suspect only) that stress may be a factor but not directly. ie I don’t think being under stress can cause a cancer. I do believe that while a person is under extreme or prolonged stress their immune system can be affected and not performning properly which in turn may fail to attack cancerous cells.

It is my understanding that everyone has mutated cells in their bodies which the immune system clears up so to me the question is equally about why our bodies failed to stop a tumour growing just as much as what triggered it in the first place if that makes sense.


Hi Juliet - not sure if you are referring to me when you say you feel hurt and patronised. That would be the last way in the world that I would want to make anyone feel, and if you got that from me, then I am really sorry. This certainly is a discussion forum, and the discussions are really interesting. There is a great deal we don’t know, and it will be a good thing when we know a whole lot more than we do now. I wasn’t at all referring to you personally when I wrote that I feel sad when women feel guilty, but I certainly do feel strongly that in general women should not feel guilty that they have breast cancer - as my oncologist said to me “we don’t know why you have breast cancer, and we never will” - there are risk factors a plenty, but why one person gets it, and another doesn’t, well, we just don’t know. Please, please keep posting, and working things out - that’s what we’re all doing, and we just get through this thing as best we can. Good luck. Sarah