What Increases Your Risk
Although the exact cause of
breast cancer is not known, most experts agree that several things can increase your risk of breast cancer.
Top risk factors linked to breast cancer
- Aging. Your breast
cancer risk increases as you get older. By age group, breast cancer is
- 4 out of 1,000 women in their
- 15 out of 1,000 women in their
- 24 out of 1,000 women in their 50s.
- 35 out of
1,000 women in their 60s.
- Being female. Although
breast cancer can occur in men, most breast cancer is found in women.
Conditions that can raise your risk of breast cancer
- Personal history. Women who have dense breasts, a breast disease that is not cancer, or who have had breast cancer before have an increased risk.
- Family history. A woman's risk of breast cancer increases if her mother,
sister, daughter, or two or more other close relatives, such as cousins, have a
history of breast cancer, especially if they were diagnosed with breast cancer
at age 50 or younger.
- A small number of women who have a family history of breast cancer have inherited changes to certain genes, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, that increase their breast cancer risk.
- Genetic tests are available to find out if you
have the genetic mutations long before any cancer appears.
- Breast Cancer Risk: Should I Have a BRCA Gene Test?
- Breast changes. Some breast changes, such as having atypical hyperplasia,
ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or
lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), increase a woman's risk for breast cancer.
Other things that increase the risk of breast cancer
- Race. Breast cancer occurs more often in white women than in black, Hispanic, or
- Radiation therapy. Women whose breasts
were exposed to significant amounts of radiation at a young age, especially
those who were treated for
Hodgkin's lymphoma, have an increased risk for
- Not breast-feeding. Women who don't breast-feed have a higher risk of breast
cancer than those who breast-feed. The more months of breast-feeding, the lower
the breast cancer risk.
- Alcohol. Your risk goes up the more you drink. For the best health, women should have no more than 1 drink a day or 7 drinks a week.
- Hormones. Female
hormones play a part in some types of breast cancer. Your risk of breast cancer is higher if:4
- You use estrogen-progestin
hormone therapy after menopause for several years or
- You begin menstruation before age 12
menopause later than age 55.
- You have your first baby at a later age or you do not bear any children.
- You have extra body fat or gain weight later in life. These can increase the amount of estrogen in your body.
For more information about your personal risk level, go
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Catherine D. Serio, PhD - Behavioral Health
June 18, 2012
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