A risk factor is anything that increases an individual's chance of getting a disease, but having a risk factor does not mean one will get the disease.
Some risk factors for breast cancer are things you cannot change, such as being a woman, getting older or inheriting certain gene changes.
Some common risk factors for breast cancer include:
(1) BEING A WOMAN: However, although rare, men can also have breast cancer.
(2) GETTING OLDER.: The risk for breast cancer increases with age; however young women do get breast cancer and we are seeing more young women coming down with the condition.
(3) HAVING DENSE BREASTS: Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram. Women with dense breasts are more likely to get breast cancer.
(4) CERTAIN CHEMICALS: Many of the everyday products we use; including skincare products, cleaning products such as detergents, plastics, e.t.c contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These chemicals affect female hormones particularly the hormone estrogen. This may increase one's risk of developing Breast cancer.
(5) FAMILY HISTORY OF BREAST CANCER: Although majority of women who have breast cancer are the first to develop it in their families.
a woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) or multiple family members on either side of the family who have had breast or ovarian cancer. Having a first-degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk. That being said, majority of women who have breast cancer are the first to develop it in their families.
(6) PREVIOUS TREATMENT USING RADIATION THERAPY: Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
(7) BEING OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE AFTER MENOPAUSE: Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
(8) TAKING HORMONES: Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those that include both estrogen and progesterone) taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer. Also, certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
(9) ALCOHOL: Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
(10) INHERITING CERTAIN GENETIC CHANGES: About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they result directly from gene changes (mutations) passed on from a parent.