Our 2010 Royal Society of Edinburgh and Cruden Foundation lecture will feature Professor Valerie Beral, Head of Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Incidence rates are much higher in developed than in developing countries. This is mainly because women in developed countries tend to have few children and to breastfeed only briefly. Hormonal changes during pregnancy are
believed to underlie the lifelong protection that childbearing confers against breast cancer, but we do not know exactly which changes are relevant. We need to know, since if we could mimic pregnancy by relatively short-term exposures to the appropriate hormones during early adult life, this should lead to lifelong protection against breast cancer.