The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Age at Menopause

Going through menopause at a later age is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer [12-13,17,19,23]. For example, women who go through menopause after age 55 have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who do so at age 45 or younger [12].

A pooled analysis of data from more than 400,000 women found for every year older a woman was at menopause, her breast cancer risk increased by about 3% [19].

Learn about other factors linked to the risk of breast cancer.

Age at menopause, estrogen and breast cancer risk

The increased breast cancer risk linked to an older age at menopause is likely due, at least in part, to the amount of estrogen a woman is exposed to in her life. A higher lifetime exposure to estrogen is related to an increased breast cancer risk [22].

The later a woman goes through menopause, the longer her breast tissue is exposed to estrogens released during her menstrual periods and the greater her lifetime exposure to estrogen.

Learn more about estrogen and breast cancer risk.

For a summary of research studies on menopause and breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

Updated 04/22/24