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Breast Cancer Risk Factors 


There are certain risk factors that may increase a person’s chance of developing breast cancer.  Some of these include:

  • Being female
  • Being over the age of 60
  • Being overweight or obese, particularly after menopause (fat tissue increases estrogen levels which increases breast cancer risk)
  • Having a family history of breast cancer, particularly for a woman who has a mother, sister, or daughter who has or had breast cancer
  • Smoking
  • Having abnormal breast cells (found by looking through a microscope)
  • Consuming a diet high in fat
  • Using oral contraceptives within the past 10 years
  • Maintaining a sedentary lifestyle
  • Drinking increased levels of alcohol
  • Having high breast density
  • Previously using DES (a drug commonly given to pregnant women from 1940 to 1971)

Researchers believe that certain gene changes also increase the risk of developing breast cancer. In particular, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been linked to hereditary breast cancer. Gene testing reveals the presence of potential genetic problems, particularly in families that have a history of breast cancer.

NOTE: Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.




Learn more about the structure of the Breast Health Program.


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