10 Risk Factors To know About Breast Cancer

The exact cause of breast cancer remains unknown. However, risk factors can influence the development of cancer. With breast cancer, there are certain risk factors you can change, to reduce your risk for the disease. Unfortunately, there are some risk factors that you cannot change. Education is key, so here are the top 10  risk factors for breast cancer:

1.    Genetic mutations

An inherited mutation which increases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer is the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. There are other genes and syndromes that have been associated with increased risk of breast cancer, which are less common. Those include Lynch syndrome, Cowden syndrome, PALB2 gene, CHECK2 gene, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer.

2.    A family history of breast cancer

Your risk for breast cancer is higher if your mother or sister has had or has breast cancer. You also have an increased risk if multiple family members on your mother’s or father’s side of the family have a history of the disease. That statistic is not limited to woman but also includes male relatives who have had or have breast cancer that you are related to by the 1st Degree.

3.    More than one alcoholic drink per day

Alcohol has a way of changing the way your body metabolizes estrogen, potentially causing blood estrogen levels to rise and cause cells to grow out of control. Those cells could then develop into tumors. So, one risk factor is having more than one alcoholic beverage every day.

4.    Being overweight or obese

Being overweight or obese leads to a higher risk for breast cancer because fat cells make estrogen. When you have more estrogen in the body, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers are more likely to develop and grow. Therefore, not being physically active or having a regular exercise routine also has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

5.    Dense breasts

Dense breasts are characterized as breasts that have higher amounts of fibrous and glandular tissue. Breast density is often inherited but can also be influenced by age and having children. Dense breasts can make it harder for women to detect lumps and hard spots in their breasts during a self-exam and harder to see tumors on a mammogram.

6.    Timing of pregnancy

Not having children or never breastfeeding has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. There also have been studies that there is a higher risk for the disease if you have a first pregnancy after the age 35. Pregnancy and breastfeeding have been studied to help push breast cells into their final phase of maturation and promote breast health. Therefore, there’s also an increased risk for the disease if you’ve never been pregnant or breastfed a child.

7.    Hormone therapy for menopause

Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy, which involves both estrogen and progestin, may increase the risk for breast cancer.

8.    Race/ethnicity

A breast cancer diagnosis is less common in Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women. White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American women. However, the disease is more common in African American women under the age of 45. Women of Ashkenazi or Eastern European Jewish ethnicity also have an increased risk for breast cancer compared to other heritages because of the inherited BRCA1 gene mutation.

9.    Starting menopause 55+

There is a slightly higher risk of breast cancer in women who begin menopause after age 55 because their breasts may have had longer exposure to estrogen and progesterone.


As you age, the risk for breast cancer increases.  Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50. Breast cancer screening is recommended for women 50-years-old and onwards. However, you should start conversing with your doctor about breast health and breast cancer prevention as early as 40, particularly if you are considered at high risk.

Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for more information about breast cancer and breast cancer treatment options. Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has multiple facilities located in the Tampa Bay area. Click here for more details: https://tbropa.com/