Breast Cancer – Risk Factors and Causes

October being the breast cancer awareness month – we are trying to post as much information as we can as we understand that during such time people are more receptive to such information.

Today we would like to touch upon the breast cancer risk factors and causes. Breast cancer is more common than we actually consider it to be.  It is becoming common in women in early thirties too. There are many risk factors for breast cancer and yet we do not know how exactly they are caused.

We believe that awareness and education on breast cancer can protect a lot of women from this dreadful disease. Breast cancer can be cured completely just that the women have to be more aware and ensure that they take care of their health and keep the tips we mention in mind and also check out this article on changes in breast.

What Is Meant By Risk Factor?

Let us first understand what is a risk factor? Well as the name explains it is nothing but the causes that can lead to breast cancer. As different cancers have different risk factors. We will now in this article discuss the risk factors that are exclusively associated with breast cancer.

Very Important Point

We must clarify one thing here that risk factors may only increase your chances of developing breast cancer. However, it does not mean that if you were not exposed to these risk factors you will never develop breast cancer, or vice verca.

There are exceptional cases where women developed breast cancer in spite of being far away from the risk factors that are supposedly considered to cause breast cancer. However, we will try to list down some common risk factors so that you can understand the disease and its causes while eliminating any myths associated with breast cancer.

Gender: Women have a higher chance of developing the breast cancer. Men too may develop the breast cancer but the cases are very less. This leads us to believe that perhaps breast cancer has something to do with the female hormones.

Age: Breast cancer is more common in women who are above a certain age group. As you become older your chances of developing the breast cancer will increase. Women in 20’s have a less chance of getting breast cancer than women who are in their 40’s. However, please start breast cancer screening tests as soon as you hit your mid 30’s. The latest study shows that women who are in their early 30’s are also developing the breast cancer.

Family History and Genetic Factors: If you have breast cancer in your family both on your mother or on your father side you will have a high chance of developing breast cancer. There are many cases of breast cancer that were transferred through the family from one generation to the other.

Some experts believe that as breast cancer is transferred through the genes (BRCA1 & BRCA2) perhaps there can be a method to ensure that the genes do not carry this information. However, research is still at an early stage and it is too early to comment. We must mention here that in many cases breast cancer occurs in women who have never had the disease in the family. You can say that women who have had a history of breast cancer in the family have the chances of developing the disease up to 85% more than women who do not have a family history.

Past History: If a woman was treated for breast cancer she stands a higher chance of developing the cancer again or of the cancer spreading to some other part of the body. You must be extra careful and ensure that you get yourself checked regularly.

Race and Ethnicity: Breast cancer is more common in white women. The African and Asian women have lower chances of developing the breast cancer. The interesting part is that most number of deaths in breast cancer is in African and Asian women as they are not aware of the disease and don’t get the treatment on time. This is exactly why we say that awareness can play a vital role in ensuring that the breast cancer is treated completely.

Breast Density: Some women have dense breast tissues and some don’t. If the woman has a dense breast tissue she will have higher chances of developing the breast cancer. Another reason for this can be that dense breast tissues make the mammogram not very accurate as a result detecting the breast cancer becomes more difficult.

Hormones: After menopause women show more chances of developing breast cancer. Similarly women who start their periods earlier in life and had a late menopause can also develop the breast cancer.

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Exposure to Radiation: Too much of exposure to radiation at some or the other time in life increases the chances of women to develop breast cancer. Some women are given diethylstilbestrol in pregnancy to reduce their chances of miscarriage. These women develop a higher tendency to develop breast cancer.

Lifestyle Factors: There are certain factors that are considered to be related to lifestyle. Close relation between these factors and breast cancer have been observed.

No children & late pregnancies: Women who never had children or had late pregnancies develop a higher chance of getting breast cancer. Doctors believe that breast feeding is very good in reducing the chances of developing breast cancer. Women must ensure that they breast feed the child for at least two years. In the olden days women would have many children and feeding them would automatically reduce their chances of developing breast cancer.

Oral contraceptives: Women who have had oral contraceptives develop a higher chance of getting breast cancer. If you have been on these pills for a long time you must discuss the same with your doctor.

Eating & drinking habits: Women today are into heavy drinking and alcohol. Both of these can be dangerous and are considered as a major cause of breast cancer. Women can drink and smoke but excessive drinking and smoking can cause many health problems. Even passive smoking can be a major cause of breast cancer.

Obesity: Women who are obese have a higher chance of developing the breast cancer. Please try to keep your weight in control so that you have a healthy life and you can stay away from breast cancer.

Sedentary Lifestyle: Women who are physically more active show less chance of developing the breast cancer. Women must ensure that they walk regularly and are active so that they do not develop breast cancer and live a healthier life.

Diet: Women who have proper diet and a lot of vitamin have a lower tendency to develop breast cancer.

Myths: There are certain myths attached to beast cancer. These factors are considered as myths for their is no cogent evidence to show how they cause cancer.

1. There is a common myth that wearing bra increases the chances of breast cancer. This is actually not true, rather if you do not wear bra you are increasing the density of the breast tissues that will automatically increase the chance of developing the breast cancer.

2. Another common myth is that induced abortions or miscarriages can increase the chances of breast cancer. This is not true and there is no proof to support this claim. So say that breast implants can also cause the breast cancer. This is again a myth and must not be trusted.

The following chart (Courtesy: Cornell University) shows percentage of risk factors approximately

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

We hope that this article on breast cancer risk factors will help you to understand the disease better and help you to ensure that you take the required steps to reduce the chances of developing the breast cancer. It is common and can happen to anyone. However, with a little precaution you can definitely reduce your chances of developing the disease.

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  • Dr Rajesh Tekchandani
  • My goal is that all people specially poor and needy people should get health facility free of cost and they must show faith in system. there must be awareness to control population . Safe birth and proper care of mother and child, total security. Specialties: can convince people at mass level, educate people for health in simple language and can present government health plan anywhere