Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

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While there is no definite cause for breast cancer, there are many risk factors which can contribute to the emergence of this disease. Breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates, provided the cancer has been detected early. Knowing about the risk factors and getting regularly screened if we do have breast cancer risk factors can help with the early detection. Once the cancer has been detected, the treatment should begin immediately. For this reason, a lot of patients from different countries opt to have their breast cancer treatment in India , as there is not much waiting time involved.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer – Those we cannot change

Age : The risk for breast cancer increases as we age, with most breast cancers being diagnosed after the age of 50.

Gender : Being a woman increase the chances of getting breast cancer significantly.

Inherited Genes : Inherited mutations to the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 increases the risk of getting breast cancer, among women.

Family history : The risk of breast cancer increases for a women if they have a close family member who has or has had breast cancer.

Dense breasts : Women with dense breasts are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Dense breasts sometimes, also make it difficult to see the tumour during the screening process.

Menstruation history : Early onset of menstruation (before the age of 12) and late menopause (after the age of 55) raises the risk of breast cancer.

Previous history : Women who’ve already had breast cancer are at a higher risk of getting it again. Similarly, those who’ve undergone radiation therapy to the chest or breast for the treatment of cancer, are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer – Those we can change

Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the chances of getting breast cancer. Women should try to maintain a healthy weight or lower their weight (if they are overweight) to reduce their risk of getting cancer.

Lack of physical activity : Women who exercise regularly and are physically active have a lower risk of breast cancer, when compared to women who are physically inactive.

Hormone replacements : Many women tend to take some form of hormone replacement after menopause. This significantly increases the risk of breast cancer, after prolonged use. Long term use of oral contraceptives can also increase the risk of breast cancer.

Reproductive cycles : Women who have their first child after the age of 30, who do not breastfeed, or who do not have any children at all, are at higher risk of getting breast cancer.

Smoking and Drinking: Research has shown that the risk of getting breast cancer increases, the more alcohol a women drinks, or the more she smokes. When combined, these two increases the risk of not just breast cancer, but a host of other types of cancer.