Categories: Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer: Risk Factors

The most common cancer among women is also the second most common cancer overall. And the dreaded villain is none other than breast cancer. While breast cancer cases are found more in developed countries, breast cancer-caused deaths are higher in developing countries. Let’s analyze the risk factors of breast cancer so that the malignancy can be controlled effectively by undergoing periodical checks, especially by those who fall in the risk category.

Being Woman

Though breast cancer is found in men, it’s very rare. In women, it’s the most common type of cancer – an indication of its prevalence.


Age is another factor that increases the risk of breast cancer. For instance, most types of breast cancers is found after the age of 50.

Reproductive History

If a woman’s menstruation’s start before the age of 12 and menopause occurs after the age of 55, her chance of getting breast cancer is higher; this is due to prolonged exposure to estrogens.

Dense Breasts

Dense breast tissue makes it difficult to detect breast cancer through screening; therefore it’s highly likely for women with dense breasts to get breast cancer.

It’s Hereditary 

A woman’s risk of getting breast cancer is higher if she has a first-degree relative such as mother, sister or daughter who at any point in time had breast cancer.

Exposure to Radiation Therapy

Women who have had undergone radiation therapy in chest or breast areas before the age of 30 are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.

History of Breast Cancer

A woman who had breast cancer once is more likely to get it again, even if she’s completely cured of it.

Now we have seen some of the risk factors that contribute to breast cancer. The above-mentioned risks are unchangeable. But there’s another set of risk factors which can be changed. Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.

Physically Inactive

Women who are not physically active are prone to get breast cancer, suggest studies. So, be active in whichever way you can to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.

Post-Menopausal Obesity

Gaining weight, especially after menopause, is regarded a high-risk factor to get breast cancer. By eating right and exercising regularly, one can get rid of the risk.

Taking Hormones

Certain types of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone taken during menopause trigger breast cancer if taken for more than five years.

Reproductive History

Women who gave birth to their first child after the age of 30, those who don’t breastfeed, or those who never had a full-term pregnancy are all prone to breast cancer.

Alcohol Consumption

Remember, breast cancer can attack anybody. While there are certain factors like history of breast cancer in the family that cannot be altered, with certain behavioral changes – exercising more, keeping weight under check, etc., one can significantly reduce one’s chances of getting breast cancer.

Dr. Mekhala Swethadri, Associate Consultant, Radiation Oncology, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Mysore

Narayana Health

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