Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when DNA in the breast cells change and disable the functions controlling cell division and growth. The mutated cells form tumors in the breast.

The exact causal factors for breast cancer are not known, but certain risk factors are associated with the disease. They include heavy consumption of alcohol, obesity, inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, and more.

Understanding the causal factors for breast cancer helps you to take measures that may reduce the risks of developing the disease.

Factors associated with high-risk breast cancer include;

  • Inherited mutations – Inherited gene mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are known to increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Through genetic testing, patients can know if they are susceptible to developing the disease, especially if there is a history of breast cancer in the family.
  • Age – Breast cancer is common in women aged 50 years and above. Only a few cases are diagnosed at the age of 45 or younger. However, this varies with ethnicity.
  • Obesity – Studies show that excess body fat around the waist area can contribute to breast cancer risk. After menopause, the fat tissue increases the levels of estrogen in the body, elevating the risk.
  • Dense breasts – Women with fibrous and glandular tissue are known to be at high risk of breast cancer than those with lower fatty tissue.
  • History of menstruation – Research found that women who begin menstruation before age 12 or menopause after 55 years are at high risk for breast cancer. This is due to long lifetime exposure to progesterone and estrogen hormones.
  • Hormone therapy – Using a combined post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT) is known to elevate breast cancer risk. It also increases the chances that your cancer will be diagnosed at an advanced stage.

These and many other factors can contribute to elevated breast cancer risks. Being a woman and age can influence your risks, but not all risk factors lead to breast cancer. High risk If you are at high risk, contact your doctor for advice on screening and how to minimize your risks.

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