Although, the chance of getting a particular disease increases with risk factors but still, many individuals with majority of risk factors may not have the disease anytime in their lives.
Every woman is at a risk of developing breast cancer, simply because of being a woman. But that does not state or confirms that all women will have breast cancer. On the contrary, those who develop breast cancer may not show any apparent risk factors.
As prevention is always better than cure, knowing risk factors is only the way of helping yourself in preventing the disease, by overcoming the risk factors that can be altered or avoided.
Factors Known To Be Associated With Increased Risk Of Breast Cancer
Being A Woman
If being a woman puts one at risk for certain problems, will one crib for being one? Certainly not, women should be proud of themselves, the privileged ones who very lovingly nurture their families and remain so efficient multi-taskers.
Though, it is considered a risk factor due to major breast and hormonal changes that occur during different phases of a woman’s life, women still don’t consider it as a risk. By proper monitoring the breasts on regular basis, one can bypass the possible trouble.
Women beyond 55 years of age have higher risk of developing breast cancer, but that is a part of growing up. With regular breast examination, age factor risk becomes redundant.
History Of Breast Cancer
Those with personal history of breast cancer in one breast, have an increased chance of having it in the second breast. For those with family history of breast cancer that might have happened earlier in a sister, mother or daughter, are at higher risk of developing the breast cancer disease.
Still, majority of breast cancer patients show no family history of breast cancer, and in less than 15% cases, family history of breast cancer has been noticed.
Around 10% of breast cancer cases are known to be hereditary that occur due to gene defects or mutations, which get inherited from one of the parent. The most well studied and common gene mutations of breast cancer are BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.
Women with mutated form of these genes tend to develop the disease in younger age with both the breasts getting affected, unlike in women without BRCA mutations. Few other gene mutations for breast cancer occur for gene PTEN and gene TP53.
Mutation of PTEN gene puts one at higher risk for benign as well as malignant breast tumors, whereas, mutated form of TP53 increases the risk of not only breast cancer, but other Leukemias, sarcomas and brain tumors too.
A woman, who had undergone radiation treatments dedicated to the chest area earlier, is more likely to establish breast cancer in her life. The risk due to chest radiation becomes the highest, if radiation has been exposed during adolescence period, when breasts were getting developed. Radiation exposure beyond the age of 40 years does not contribute in increasing the risk of breast cancer.
Menstrual And Menopause Age
Women, in whom menses begin at a younger age of less than 12 years, and those with late menopause at an age after 55 years, are at increased risk of breast cancer. This is because of overexposure of estrogen hormone in a woman’s entire life.
Women who have not given birth anytime in their lives or had children beyond the age of 30s are at a risk of breast cancer, after menopause than those women who gave one or multiple births.
Full time pregnancy lowers the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, breastfeeding has been shown to have protective effects against development of breast cancer. More the duration of breastfeeding (1.5 to 2 years), lesser the chances of one undergoing breast cancer as then the total number of menstrual cycle decreases in a lifespan of a woman.
Usage Of Birth Control Pills
Women using birth control pills have a little risk of breast cancer, over women who have never used them. This risk does not stay forever but returns to normal over time, after discontinuation of pills. After 10 years of stopping contraceptive pills, women no more remain at increased risk due to pill usage.
Hormone Therapy For Managing Post Menopausal Troubles
Utilization of combined hormone therapy (using both estrogen and progesterone) to relieve menopause symptoms and prevent women from developing osteoporosis, is known to increase the risk of breast cancer.
The increased risk may be so high that it could lead to increase chances of dying from breast cancer. Combined HT also raises the likelihood of having an advanced stage of breast cancer.
The increased risk is normally observed within two years of hormonal therapy usage. After five years of stopping the combined hormone therapy, the breast cancer risk return backs to same as that of those who do not make use of this therapy.
Getting obese after menopause or putting weight rapidly in adulthood, puts one at an increased risk of breast cancer as fat tissue produces most of estrogen post menopause. Higher risks appear for those who gain excess fat around the waistline.
Excess fat tissue formation post menopause, increases estrogen levels inturn putting one at high risk of breast cancer. Overweight women also tend to have high insulin levels that are also linked to risk of breast cancer and other cancers.
Women with high alcohol intake of 2 to 5 drinks a day put them at 1.5 times higher risk of breast cancer and several other forms of cancer.
Benign Breast Conditions
Women, who are diagnosed with one or the other form of benign breast conditions, might show an increased risk of developing breast cancer disease.
Various types of proliferative lesions that show excessive cell growth in lobules or ducts of breast tissue, increase the risk of breast cancer from 1.5 to 5 times of the normal cases, which are without any benign breast problems.
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