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Breast cancer risks

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. Health statistics clearly demonstrate increasing frequency of breast cancer. For example, in 1940 the lifetime risk of breast cancer among women was 5% – in means only one woman among every 20 women had risks for developing breast cancer. In 2012 the lifetime risk of breast cancer increased up to 12 % which means one woman among every 8 women gets breast cancer. In addition, health experts experience increased cases of breast cancer in men. Whole statistics confirm increased breast cancer risks, and it is very important to highlight breast cancer risks and educate women to avoid some risks. If you know risk factors, most of them can be prevented. Modern prevention strategies can save millions of lives.

Breast cancer risks – family history

If any of female members of your family has breast cancer, you are more likely to develop it at certain moment of your life. According to scientists, having a first-degree relative (male or female) with breast cancer or a first-degree female relative with ovarian cancer increases the risk of breast cancer. Chances are double for women who have one first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) with breast cancer. If two first-degree relatives had breast cancer, women risks are 5 times higher than average.

In some cases family breast cancer risks are linked to abnormal genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2. Family risks could be increased also because of abnormal CHEK2 gene which may play a role in developing breast cancer.

Breast cancer risks

Breast cancer risks

If woman has strong family history of breast cancer, her doctor can develop special screening plan tailored to unique situation. It would be recommended to pay special attention to diagnostic values of breast cancer tests including mammography, Breast cancer detection with high-tech bra, Molecular Breast Imaging, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and Tomosynthesis.

Besides family history, health history of each woman is also very important. If woman already had cancer in one breast such as ductal carcinoma or invasive breast cancer, chances for having breast cancer in second breast are 3-4 times higher compared with healthy women.

Breast cancer risks – age

Breast cancer risks increase as you age. According to health statistics, in 40-50 year old women there is only one woman is at risk of breast cancer among every 68 women; in 50-60 year old women risk is increasing and one woman among every 42 women has risk of breast cancer; among older women (after 70) one woman among every 26 women is at risk of developing breast cancer. In general, about 75-78% women with breast cancer are older than 50 and about 50% are older than 65. According to scientists, mutations could happen as a result of aging process and pathological mutations could be responsible for breast cancer development. Growing older is the second biggest risk factor for breast cancer.

Breast cancer risks – genetic factors

About 5-10% cases of breast cancer are considered as genetic (inherited genes). It is well known that BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase risks for breast cancer and sometimes they are responsible for cancer development.

Breast cancer risks – breast diseases

Certain benign (not cancerous) breast diseases also can increase risks for breast cancer development. These diseases include ductal hyperplasia (without atypia), atypical lobular hyperplasia, complex fibroadenoma, sclerosing adenosis, papilloma or papillomatosis and radial scar. It was noted that sometimes during mentioned diseases cells transform into cancerous cells triggering breast cancer development.

Breast cancer risks – vitamin D

Recent studies demonstrated strong link between deficit of Vitamin D and breast cancer. Several scientists suggest that women with low levels of vitamin D have higher risks of breast cancer. Experimental studies discovered that Vitamin D may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and may be able to stop breast cancer cells from growing. Normal levels of vitamin D can be considered as preventive factor against breast cancer.

Breast cancer risks – obesity

Obesity is linked to several health conditions including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. According to recent studies, women with obesity after menopause are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who are in the normal weight range. Main explanation is that during menopause ovarian estrogen levels decrease and most estrogen derived from fat tissue. The more fat tissue a woman has, the more estrogen in the body, therefore likely increasing chances of breast cancer.

Breast cancer risks – birth control pills

During last decades scientists discuss connection between birth control pills and breast cancer. It was noted that women who took birth control pills had slightly higher chance of breast cancer developing as opposed to women who didn’t take them at all. Risk remained heightened within 10 years from the moment women stopped taking the pill, but for the years that followed, risk decreased.

Breast cancer risks – hormone replacement therapy

Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) also increases breast cancer risks (especially is used during perimenopause and menopause). Combined HRT increases breast cancer risk by about 75%, even when used for only a short time. It was noted that breast cancer risks increase the most during first 2-3 years of treatment. Higher doses of HRT increase breast cancer risks more than lower doses. Breast cancer risk goes back down to average during 2-3 years after stop of taking HRT medications.

Breast cancer risks – alcohol

Increased alcohol consumption can increase risks for breast cancer development. Researcher found that breast cancer risks for women who drank increase by 7-8% with each additional drink consumed each day compared to those who didn’t drink at all. Scientists suggest that alcohol causes estrogen levels to rise and it could trigger breast cancer development.


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