There are several facts as well as myths commonly circulated as risk factors for Breast Cancer. These factors, irrespective of the evidence they are based on, easily gain popularity and sometimes even lead to widespread hysteria. However, the truth of the matter is that very few factors can be conclusively classified as a risk factor for breast cancer.
As such, it is best to know the facts and disregard the myths. Also to stay on the safe side, reducing your risk factors for breast cancer as much as possible is the best preventive measure. There are certain factors such as gender and age that cannot be altered. But others such as weight can be certainly influenced and better managed.
Here are the established factors that increase your risks of breast cancer:
- Ageing: In most of the cases, breast cancer is detected in women aged 50 or above. The exact cause of more occurrences of this disease in older women is not clearly understood. However, it is advisable for women to undergo annual mammogram testing, post-menopause or even after age 40. Do check with your doctor.
- Genetic Mutations: Inheriting a mutated copy of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes from either parent increases the risk of developing breast cancer. In normal circumstances, these genes play a crucial role in stopping the abnormal cell growth, and hence keep cancer at bay. But mutated copies of these genes are unable to function properly and hence cancer risk increases.
- Personal History: If a person had breast cancer earlier, then they are at higher risk of developing it again. In such cases, it is very important to undergo the proper post-treatment cancer care and follow the doctor’s advice thoroughly.
- Late or no Pregnancy: Women who have never been pregnant are more likely to develop breast cancer. Also, having the first pregnancy after the age of 30 increases the chances of this disease.
- Obesity: Being overweight is also considered a risk factor for breast cancer. It is advisable to stay physically active and manage a healthy weight to minimize the risk. Post-menopause, women should pay special attention to their weight and maintain it well.
- Early Menstrual Period & Late Menopause: Either of these conditions generally implies more menstrual cycles than usual. In such cases, women have longer exposure to estrogen and progesterone hormones which may put them at high risk for developing breast cancer.
- Dense Breast: Women with dense breasts have less fatty tissues and more glandular and fibrous tissue. According to available statics, having dense breasts increases the risk of breast cancer. But this also makes it difficult to detect this disease in a mammogram.
Women, as well as men, can both develop breast cancer. However, this disease is not that common in men.
It is important to note that a person who has one or more risk factors may never develop breast cancer. Similarly, a person who demonstrates no risk factors at all can also develop this disease. The best option is to conduct a self-check regularly and consult a doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms of breast cancer.