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Posted on May 23, 2014 |

Breast Cancer and its Risk Factors

Breast Cancer and its Risk Factors

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Anything that affects your chance of getting a disease is a risk factor, such as cancer. Different cancers have different kind of risk factors. For instance, exposing skin to the strong and powerful sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. While in lung cancer, mouth cancer, larynx (voice box), bladder cancer, kidney cancer and sever other organs smoking is the major risk factor.

But the risk factors don’t tell us the whole thing. Having several risk factors or a single risk factor, doesn’t mean that one will fall sick or ill.  Most of the women who have one or more breast cancer risk factors never develop the disease, while many women with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors. Even when a woman with risk factors develops breast cancer, it is hard to know just how much these factors might have contributed.

Few Unchangeable Risk Factors

Genetic risk factors: Almost 5% to 10% of the Breast Cancer cases are believed to be hereditary, consequentially from gene defects (called mutations) inherited from a parent.

Gender: Basically, being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer. Men can develop breast cancer; however this disease is about 100 times more common among women than men.

Aging: The risk of developing breast cancer rises as you get older. About 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45, while about 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older.

BRCA1 and BRCA2: The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In normal cells, these genes help prevent cancer by making proteins that keep the cells from growing abnormally. If you have inherited a mutated copy of either gene from a parent, you have a high risk of developing breast cancer during your lifetime.


The use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume 1 alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk.

Being overweight or obese

Being overweight or obese after menopause increases breast cancer risk. After menopause (when the ovaries stop making estrogen), most of a woman’s estrogen comes from fat tissue. Before menopause your ovaries produce most of your estrogen, and fat tissue produces a small amount of estrogen.

Tobacco smoke

Studies found no link between cigarette smoking and breast cancer for a long time. However in the recent years, more studies have found that long-term heavy smoking is associated to a higher risk of breast cancer.

Night work

Most studies have suggested that women who work late in the night have a severe risk of breast cancer.
E.g. Women, who work in night shift in Hospitals, BPO’s etc, have an increased risk of Breast cancer.