Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it is far more common in women. Studies say, that one in eight women develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The precise causes of breast cancer are unclear but there are several risk factors that affect your likelihood of developing it. These risk factors do not indicate that you will most certainly develop breast cancer. While some women who are considered to have a high risk do not develop it, some who have no known risk factors can develop breast cancer.
Some of these risk factors are preventable, while some of them cannot be influenced. They are:
- Age: As a woman keeps growing older, the risk of developing breast cancer also increases. Almost 80% of the breast cancer cases occur in women over 50.
- Family History: If someone in your family like your mother, daughter, or sister had breast cancer or ovarian cancer under the age of 50, you have a higher chance of developing it. It is possible for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to be passed to a child from her parent.
- Personal History: If you had breast cancer in one breast, you are more likely to develop cancer in the other breast.
- Dense Breast Tissue: Women with dense breast tissue have more breast cells and connective tissues in their breast and less fat. They have a higher chance of developing breast cancer as there are more cells that can become cancerous.
- Menstruation: Women who started their menstrual cycle before the age of 12 or went through menopause after the age of 55 have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Exposure to Radiation: Certain medical procedures that use radiation such as CT scans or X-rays may increase your risk of developing breast cancer. If you received radiotherapy to your chest as a child, you are at an increased risk.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese especially after menopause puts you at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. This is due to the increase in the production of estrogen in your body.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy: Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to treat menopausal symptoms can also increase your risk of breast cancer. The longer you use this therapy, the more the risk increases.
Regular checkups and screening can help detect any symptoms of breast cancer early. It is advisable, especially for women over 50 to get themselves checked by a doctor regularly and prevent breast cancer.