Risk factors of breast cancer

What are risk factors of breast cancer?

  • Sex: breast cancer is found mainly in women.
  • Age: older women are more likely to develop cancer. 60% of breast tumours occur in women of more than 60 years of age.
  • Genes: there exist two identified genes which, when undergoing some type of change (mutation), are associated with a higher likelihood of breast cancer. These genes are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, and according to some studies it seems likely that 50% to 60% of women who have inherited these mutated genes may develop cancer before the age of 70.
  • Family background: if a close relation(mother, sister, daughter) has had breast cancer, the risk of developing a cancer is doubled. This risk increases only slightly if a distant relation (grandmother, aunt, cousin) has had breast cancer.
  • Personal background: although moderate, risk appears to increase in those women who have a large number of mammary ducts. For those women who have already suffered cancer in one breast, the chances of developing the disease in a second breast is different from the recurrence or reappearance of the first cancer.
  • Race: white Caucasian women are more likely to suffer from this disease than black women. Those with the lowest risk of suffering from cancer are Asian or Hispanic women.
  • Menstruation: the earlier that periods begin (before the age of 12) the greater the risk of cancer (from two to four times higher). As regards the menopause, those women who undergo the menopause later in life (after the age of 55) are at greater risk. Pregnancy after the age of 30 also incurs a greater risk of developing the disease. However, these factors frequently have little incidence on the risk of developing cancer.
  • Lifestyle: hormone replacement therapy (long-term risk increase in suffering from breast cancer), alcohol, excess weight, etc.