What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

breast cancerBreast cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from the breast cells. It is the most common type of cancer among women in the U.S. There are different types of breast cancer. The condition can be non-invasive or invasive and the cancerous cells can differ in terms of where they are located.

Most breast cancers are sporadic and develop if a person’s genes are damaged by chance after they are born. Environmental factors are the underlying cause of this type of cancer. So there is no chance of the person passing this gene to their children.

Inherited breast cancer is the less common type and makes up 5% to 10% of the cancers. It occurs when gene changes (mutations) are transferred from parent to child. Many of those mutations are in BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2 (tumor suppressor genes), which prevent the cells from growing out of control and turning into cancer.  If these cells have a mutation they can grow .

Some people showing a high risk of breast cancer may not develop it, while at the same time, people who do not show any risk factors can develop it. So understanding the risk factors that you cannot change and can be change is necessary to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer

Risk factors that you can change

  • Regular alcohol consumption.
  • Not having healthy foods.
  • Not being physically active.
  • Doing post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT).
  • Being obese.
  • Being pregnant for the first time after the age of 30.
  • Not breastfeeding.
  • Use of birth control pills.
  • Exposure to chemicals such as paraben and phthalates that are present in cosmetics.
  • Exposure to chemicals in plastic products, in particular, bisphenol A (BPA).
Risk factors that you cannot change

  • Being a women.
  • If you have already been diagnosed for breast cancer.
  • White women have more chance of developing breast cancer than women of other race.
  • Having a family history of breast cancer, especially for your mother, daughter, or sister.
  • For a person who has multiple relatives that are affected by breast or ovarian cancer especially before the age of 50.
  • Inherited risk.
  • Menstruation before the age of 11 and menopause after age 55.
  • If unusual changes occurs during a breast biopsy.
  • Exposed to radiation therapy to the chest as a child or young adult for another cancer.

Women should self-examine their breasts regularly and also perform mammogram screening starting at the age of 40. This will help in early detection of cancer and increase the chance of survival as there are more treatment options  available in the early stage. So, consider the risk factors you can change. Exercising regularly, maintaining a proper diet, and reducing stress and anxiety could help lower risk of breast cancer.