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10 Risk factors for breast cancer

There are numerous known risk factors for breast cancer, despite the fact that the National Cancer Institute states that the majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors and many women with multiple risk factors never develop the disease. Being aware of the risk factors can help you make healthy choices that help minimize your risk of disease.

Breast cancer survivor

1Age factor

Aging is one of the basic risk factors for breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about one in eight cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in women younger than 45 years old, and two out of three invasive breast cancers are diagnosed in women 55 or older.


While the majority of breast cancers are not hereditary, approximately five to ten percent of cases are a result of genetic mutations. Most commonly, these mutations are in the BRCA 1 or 2 gene. In the United States, these are most often seen in women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, says the American Cancer Society.


Obesity is a risk factor for developing breast cancer, depending on a woman’s menopausal status, says the National Cancer Institute. Prior to menopause, obese women have a lower risk of developing the disease than women who are in a healthy weight range. Post menopause, obese women have 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer and also are at higher risk of dying from the disease.

4Menstruating young

Women who begin menstruating before the age of 12 or who go through menopause after the age of 55 are at higher risk for breast cancer, says the organization Bright Pink.

5Giving birth after 35

Having your first child after the age of 35 may increase your risk of breast cancer, says the Mayo Clinic.


Radiation exposure to the chest at a young age, such as in Hodgkin’s disease, increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

7Female factor

Women are diagnosed with breast cancer at much higher rates than men.

8Family history

Having a personal or family history of the disease increases your risk of breast cancer.

9Consuming alcohol

The American Cancer Society states that drinking two to five alcoholic drinks daily have 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not drink.

10Hormone therapy

Using hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, for menopausal symptoms, has been shown to increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

How to reduce your risk of breast cancer gives you a few tips on how to reduce your risk of getting the second most common cancer, breast cancer!

More on breast cancer awareness

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