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Breast Cancer - Causes and Risk Factors

Breast Cancer - Risks & Causes

While it is still not clear what exactly causes breast cancer but we do know that certain risk factors are linked to the occurrence of disease.

Breast Cancer - Causes and Risk Factors

Having risk factors does not mean that a woman will surely get breast cancer. Sometimes women who have one or even more risk factors never get breast cancer. And most women who do get breast cancer don't have any risk factors. Some risk factors are stronger than others and risk for breast cancer can also change over time with aging or lifestyle.

Risk factors which CANNOT be change

Gender: 100 times more common in women than in men.

Age: The probability of getting breast cancer rises as woman gets older.

Race: White women are slightly more likely to get it than Asian, Hispanic and Native-American women.

Genetic risk factors: Mutations in genes or inherited changes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the risk.

Family history: Risk is higher in women whose close blood relatives like mother, sisters or aunts have the disease.

Personal history of breast cancer: A woman who has cancer in one breast has a greater chance of getting a new cancer in the other breast

Dense breast tissue: When there is more gland tissue and less fatty tissue, it increases the risk. It can also make it harder for doctors to spot problems in screening tests.

Other benign (not cancer) breast problems: Women who have certain other breast problems are more closely linked to breast cancer risk than others.

Menstrual periods: Women had begun their periods early (before 12) or had late menopause (after the age of 55) have slightly increased risk of breast cancer.

Breast radiation early in life: Women who have had recurrent radiation treatment in the chest area earlier in life (especially in growing years) have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Risk factors which CAN be changed

Child birth: Not having children or having them late in life may increase the risk. Woman who had their first child after 30, have slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

Not breastfeeding: Some studies suggest that breastfeeding lowers breast cancer risk slightly, especially if the breastfeeding duration last for 1.5 to 2 years.

Certain birth control pills: Studies suggest that women who use certain type of birth control pills have greater risk than women who have never used them. This risk seems to revert back to normal once the pills are stopped.

Using hormone therapy (HRT) after menopause: Taking hormones - estrogen and progesterone after menopause increases the risk of getting breast cancer.

Alcohol: Alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of getting breast cancer.

Being obese or overweight: Being overweight after menopause is linked to a increased risk of breast cancer.

Risk factors which have been studies but are yet DISPROVEN

  • Antiperspirant with Paraben
  • Tight and underwire bra
  • Induced abortions
  • Breast implants

To live healthy & happy, one must keep a check on the body’s functioning by going for regular health checkups. This helps in assessing risk factors and diagnosing diseases at an early stage, which will result in effective treatment and better management of the condition.


Know your complete health status by full body checkup packages designed and facilitated by Indus Health Plus, the preventive checkup specialist.


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