Breast cancer, Breast Health, Breast Help, Health, Life Style, Wellness, Women's Health

10 Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

This week, we share with you 10 things that can increase your risk of breast cancer. These are things you can’t change, but being aware of them and knowing the facts will help you advocate for your health and your breast surveillance.

Here is the list:

  • No 1: Being a woman – Now this one seems pretty obvious. Breast cancer can and does occur in men but this comprises less than 1% of breast cancers. 
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  • No. 2: Age – As you cell age, they have a higher risk of having acquired genetic damage and a decreased ability to repair themselves. This combination can lead to abnormal growth and multiplication. Statistically, most breast cancers occur in women aged 50-55 over. Less than 1 in 8 cancer occur in women 45 and under. 
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  • No. 3: Family history – The number or relatives with breast cancer and the age at which they had their diagnosis can influence your own risk of developing breast cancer. Having a first degree relative with breast cancer ca double your risk of breast cancer. Having 2 can quintuple the risk.
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  • No. 4: Genetic mutation –  Breast cancer due to genetic mutation are estimated to cause  5-10% of breast cancers. Know your family history. For more information on this, check our blogpost and video on Genetic Mutations.
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  • No. 5: Ethnicity – White women have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer then other women. Black women have a higher risk of developing more aggressive forms of breast cancer. Other ethnic groups such as Ashkenazi Jews also have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
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  • No. 6:Personal history – If you had a breast cancer, your risk of developing a new cancer in the same breast or the opposite breast is 3-4 times that of a woman who did not. 
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  • No. 7:Radiation to the chest or face – Radiation to the chest or face for another disease can  increase your risk of developing breast cancer. The risk depends on the age at which you had your radiation but is the highest if you received the radiation during your puberty and breast development phase.
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  • No. 8: Past breast biopsy results – Certain results from past breast biopsies are risk markers for developing breast cancer. A biopsy showing  proliferative diseases such ductal hyperplasia, complex fibroadenoma, sclerosing adenosis, papilloma, radial scar can double your risk. Biopsy results showing atypia can quintuple your risk whereas lobular carcinoma in situ can increase it up to 10X.
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  • No. 9: Menstrual history – The amount of time your breast is exposed to estrogen can increase your risk of breast cancer. Women who had their menarche (or started menstruating) before age 12  or their menopause after age 55 are thought to have an increased risk of breast cancer.
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  • No. 10 Having dense breasts – Measuring of breast density is not very specific and determined roughly on the breast tissue appearance on mammogram. The composition of your breasts is somewhat hereditary but those deemed to have dense breasts have more glands on mammogram.  Studies have shown that they can have up to 6x more chances to develop breast cancer. 

Just remember, having these risk factors does not mean you will develop breast cancer. It just means you have a higher risk than the average population/woman. So if you have one or many of these risk factors, inform your physician and discuss what measures you can take to best take care of your health.

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