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Breast Cancer Risk Factors

1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime.

The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2014 there will be more than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer. One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. One out of 36 will die from breast cancer. There are risk factors that cannot be changed, and others that are linked to choices a person makes. Below represents part of the American Cancer Society’s lists of breast cancer risk factors.

Risk factors you cannot change:

Gender: Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than in men.

The chance of getting breast cancer goes up as a woman gets older. 

Family history:
Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease. Still, most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history, so not having a relative with breast cancer doesn’t mean you won’t get it.

Menstrual periods:
Women who have had more menstrual cycles because they started menstruating before age 12 and/or went through menopause after age 55 have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer risk and lifestyle choices:

Not having children or having them later in life: Women who have not had children, or who had their first child after age 30, have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

Oral estrogen:
Hormone replacement therapy (c)ombined estrogen/progesterone taken after menopause increases the risk of getting breast cancer. This increase in risk can be seen with as little as two years of use. The increased risk from combined hormone therapy appears to apply only to current and recent users. A woman’s breast cancer risk seems to return to that of the general population within five years of stopping combined treatment.

The use of alcohol, even as little as one drink a day, can increase the risk of getting breast cancer. Compared with nondrinkers, women who consume one alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Those who have two to five drinks daily have about one and a half times the risk of women who don’t drink alcohol.

Being overweight or obese:
Becoming overweight or obese after menopause — or because of weight gain that took place as an adult — is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

Source: American Cancer Society