Cancer Support Group

Friday, Sep 22nd

Last update:06:42:40 AM GMT

Home Cancer Breast Cancer Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factor increases someone’s chance of developing a disease. Some women suffering from breast cancer do not have any of the risk factors associated with them & also some women who are at a risk may never develop breast cancer.

Common risk factors associated with breast cancer are:
Cancer Genes
A woman who has breast cancer sufferers in the family is at a higher risk. This may be due to mutations occurring in the genetic structure. BRCA1 and BRCA2–are the two commonly associated genes with hereditary breast cancer. Whether a woman has these genetic mutations can be found by blood screening. Also these women may be at a higher risk for ovarian cancer as well.

Family History
Women who have family members with breast cancer are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. For example, a woman whose mother developed breast cancer will have approximately twice the normal lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

Estrogen
Estrogen levels may affect a woman’s chances of breast cancer. Estrogen levels increase at puberty and high levels of the hormone cycles in the bloodstream until menopause. The longer a woman is exposed to estrogen, the higher her risk of breast cancer. Thus, women who have late onset of menstruation or early menopause have a much lower risk of breast cancer. Women on hormone replacement therapy after menopause have a slightly elevated risk of breast cancer while they’re taking the hormones. But the risk drops when they stop the medication. Women taking oral contraceptive pills containing estrogens also have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.

Reproductive History
Women who have not borne children are at a higher risk. This seems to arise from the fact that the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy decrease the susceptibility of the breasts to cancer.

Weight
More the weight of the woman the greater her risk. This risk increases after menopause is reached. The adipose tissue in the body (fat) stimulates excess estrogen production thereby putting this group at a greater risk.

Environmental Factors
Chemicals used in pesticides (such as DDT), plastics, paper, detergents, textiles, cosmetics, hair colorings and other common products, may be responsible for higher risk of breast cancer, although no concrete evidence has been found. Also underarm antiperspirants and underwire bras are suspected to play a role but again, in the absence of evidence it cannot be conclusively stated.

Alcohol/Smoking
Higher consumption of alcohol, tobacco & drugs increase a woman’s risk.

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