When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, it is natural to want to learn why you developed the disease.The truth is, you may never know, but there are several risk factors that increase your changes of getting it.
Genetics – Inherited changes, or mutations, to genes are risk factors. Some women are born with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which increased their odds of developing breast cancer;
Age – The risk for developing breast cancer increases as you age. Most women develop the disease after the age of 50;
Obesity – Those who are obese have low levels of chronic inflammation within their bodies, which can eventually lead to DNA damage and cancer;
Family history of breast cancer – Having a first-degree relative such as a mother, father, aunt who has had breast cancer increases a woman's risk of developing the disease, as does having multiple family members on either a woman's mother's or father's side of the family;
Reproductive history – Those who begin their periods before the age of 12 and/or menstruate after the age of 55 have higher risks of breast cancer, as their bodies are exposed to hormones longer. Also, those who had their first child after the age of 30, did not breast feed or did not have children altogether are at an increased risk of breast cancer;
Dense breasts – A woman with breasts that are made mostly of connective tissue as opposed to fatty tissue increases her likelihood of breast cancer;
Taking hormones – Certain birth control pills and hormone therapies, taken after menopause, can increase the risk of breast cancer;
Drinking alcohol – Studies show that the more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater her risk for developing breast cancer;
History of radiation – Those who have had radiation to their chests or breasts before the age of 30 for previous illnesses are at higher risk of breast cancer;
Use of diethylstilbestrol (DES) – DES was once given to women to prevent miscarriages. Those who took it are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
While some of these risk factors are unpreventable, what is important is lessening the ones you can, and using early detection to spot any potential signs of cancer.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and cancer.gov.