An Oncologist, Dr Muhammad Habeebu, on Thursday said childless women were at higher risk of having breast cancer.
Habeebu, Head of Department, Radiotherapy, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, spoke at the 9th Symposium and Awards organised by the Health Writers Association of Nigeria in collaboration with Maximpact Communications in Lagos.
He identified breast cancer as the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cause of death from cancer.
Habeebu said that women who have had children, particularly if they also breastfed at least for one year following pregnancy, have a lower risk of breast cancer.
He said: “Woman’s body is designed to have children and having children means breastfeeding to lower the risk of breast cancer.
“Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual periods.
“This delay reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to hormones like estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth.
“So, when a woman has children and breastfeed children adequately, it makes her breast less likely to develop cancer.
“But, a woman who did not have children or breastfeed is at higher risk of developing cancer.”
Habeebu, however, urged women without children to be vigilant by going for regular cancer screening to aid early detection.
He said: “Whether they have had children or not, there are many things that women in their 50s should do in terms of appropriate screening for cancer, including undergoing annual mammograms to look for early stage of breast cancer.
“Women should also maintain a normal weight since the excess estrogen of obesity increases the risk of endometrial cancer and possibly breast cancer.”
Habeebu, who doubles as a Consultant Oncologist and Radiotherapist, said that in spite having an increasing number of citizens suffering from cancer, Nigeria only has nine radiotherapy machines with only three functioning.
He urged government at all levels to invest in the provision of infrastructure for cancer treatment to save many cancer patients in the country.
In his remarks, Dr Emmanuel Enabulele, the Chairman, HEWAN Board of Trustees, said that the symposium was a forum to bring together health experts to brainstorm on the ways to address the challenges in the nation’s healthcare sector.
Enabulele, also a Consultant Surgeon, urged health writers to continue to give adequate reportage to the healthcare sector to draw attention of policy makers.
He also called for high political commitment to the health of Nigerians.