What are the risk factors for Breast Cancer?

Risk factors for breast cancer are those conditions or anything that increases your chances of developing breast cancer. However, having this risk factor doesn’t mean you will develop breast cancer. There are some risk factors that we have no control over, like being a woman while there are other factors that we can control, such as diet and lifestyle factors.
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No one is to be blamed for causing breast cancer. It is not the fault of the individual, the devil or as a result of sorcery.

Below are the conditions that increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer:
Risk factors that we cannot control
1 Gender
Just being a woman increases your chances of having breast cancer. Men have breast cancer too, but their chances of developing breast cancer are by far lower than that of women. Some health experts associate this discrepancy to the  hormones estrogen and progesterone which can fuel the growth of breast cancer. Breast Cancer occurs 100 times more in women than in men.

2 Family History of Breast Cancer
A woman’s chances of getting breast cancer increases if her mother or sister has had breast cancer. The direct mechanism is still being studied by researchers. However, the percentage of women who develop breast cancer and have had a close blood relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer is as low as 15%.

3 Previous diagnosis of breast Cancer
The chances of getting breast Cancer after a previous diagnosis of cancer is high. This is why women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer need to go for regular checkups. If she developed breast Cancer on the right breast, she should also go for breast Cancer screening on the left breast.

4 The risk of developing breast Cancer increases with age
The older a woman gets, the more her chances of developing breast Cancer.
Two out of every three women have been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer after the age of 55.

5 Race
Caucasian women are more likely to develop breast cancer than other women.

6 Menstrual History
Women who started menstruating early especially before the age of 12 or women who undergo menopause after 55 are more likely to develop breast cancer.

7 Reproductive History
Having the first child at an older age or not having given birth at all increases a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.

8 Having dense breast tissue
Having a dense breast tissue increases a woman’s chances of having breast cancer and furthermore, a dense breast tissue makes lumps harder to detect. Women who have dense breast tissue should always go for checkups and screening.

9 Mutation of Genes
When mutation occurs in certain genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, it can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. These genes help in preventing breast cancer by synthesizing proteins that prevent our cells from growing abnormally. These genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 can be inherited from parents. If these genes are inherited, then the chances of having breast cancer can occur at any age. It is important for people to do a genetic test to confirm if they have BRCA1 or BRCA2.

Risk factors that can be controlled

1 couch potatoes and a sedentary lifestyle
Those who do not engage in physical activity are more likely to develop breast cancer.

2 Being overweight and obese
The chances of developing breast cancer increases with women who are overweight and obese.

3 drinking alcohol in excess
Drinking alcohol in excess increases a woman’s chances of having breast cancer.

4 Birth control
Depo-provera (Depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate, DMPA) is a form of birth control that is given to women every three months through injection. It is an injectable form of progesterone. Women who use Depo-provera have an increased risk of having breast cancer

Women who use oral contraceptive pills have a greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who have never used oral contraceptives. This risk tends to reduce with time if the pill is stopped.

5 Poor diet
Women who do not eat more fruits and vegetables, who consume diets that are high in saturated fat, artificial products and chemicals have a higher chance of developing breast cancer.

6 Taking hormones for menopause
Taking a combined Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) which is prescribed for menopause can increase ones risk of having breast cancer. It is called combined because it involves estrogen and progesterone.  These hormones help relieve the symptoms of menopause.

There is no evidence to support the following, which are being rumoured to increase the risk of breast cancer:
  • Wearing bras
  • Taking antidepressants
  • Induced abortions 
  • Breast implants

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