What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
1. Female sex
If you are a woman, then you are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer compared to men.
Females above 30 years of age are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer is found to be more common among the Caucasians and Jews and is rare in Japan and Taiwan.
4. Family history
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer (i.e. 2 first degree relatives), then you have a 5 fold risk of developing breast cancer especially if they had a history of bilateral or premenopausal diagnosed cancer. A strong family history only accounts for 10% of all breast cancer while 50% is accounted by genetic factors.
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes have been found to be on chromosome 17 in women with a family history of carcinoma of the breast. These genes are associated with an increased risk. S mutation in either of these leads to an 80% to 90% risk of developing the disease.
5. Your medical history
If you have a past history of a breast cancer or a previous history of a benign breast disease such as fibrocystic changes, then you are at a high risk of developing breast cancer.
6. Menstrual history
Early menarche (before 12 years) or late menopause (after 50 years) increases your estrogen window i.e. you will be exposed to estrogen for a longer time period compared to others which makes you more at risk of developing the women.
7. Pregnancy history
If you have never conceived, or if you conceived your first pregnancy at a later age (after 30 years) the risk of developing breast cancer is higher compared to others who have conceived early.
As you may know, one advantage of breastfeeding is that it will reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. The longer you breastfeed, less the risk.
9. Hormonal factors
If you are on long-term oral contraceptive pills (OCP’s) or on Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) for more than 10 years, then the chances of developing breast cancer are high in you.
10. Other factors
Other factors such as obesity, exposure to irradiation and chronic alcoholism increase the likelihood of developing the disease.