Breast cancer occurs when the tissue of the breast develops malignant tumors. This disease primarily affects women, but men can also develop it. Thousands of women die from breast cancer every year because, unfortunately, in most cases it’s detected too late.
With today’s advanced technology and medicine it’s possible to treat breast cancer, and the life expectancy of many patients has increased considerably. But the disease is still very alarming because often it isn’t detected in time. Since knowing about the risk factors for breast cancer is key to prevention, in this article we’ll share some of the key causes of breast cancer that you should keep in mind.
Age and gender
As we mentioned earlier, this type of cancer primarily affects women, but men can also suffer from it. In most cases the likelihood of developing breast cancer increases with age, particularly in people over the age of 50. Men are 100 times less likely to develop this disease.
Numerous studies have found that people who have the highest risk of breast cancer are those with a close relative who have had it themselves, or have had uterine, cervical, ovarian, or colon cancer.
Breast cancer can also be caused by a defective gene that’s inherited from either parent. Often these defects are found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are responsible for producing the proteins that protect the body from cancer. A defect in either gene can increase the risk of developing breast cancer at some point in your life by up to 80%.
Women who started getting periods before the age of 12 are at a higher risk, while women who reach menopause after the age of 55 are also at a higher risk.
History of the disease
Women who have had cancer in one breast have a higher risk of developing it in the other, or may see a recurrence in the same breast.
According to several studies, drinking one or two alcoholic beverages per day can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
Women who are childless or wait until after 30 to bear children are at an increased risk for breast cancer. Having more than one pregnancy earlier in life reduces the likelihood of developing this disease.
Women who have received estrogen therapy for long periods of time have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Although this risk factor isn’t fully understood, experts believe that women who are obese produce more estrogen, which can increase the development of this disease. The risk is even higher for women over 50 years old who are obese.
Exposure to X-rays and CT scans (also known as TAC) increases the development risk for breast cancer significantly. If you received radiation therapy as a child or adult, as a treatment for cancer in the chest region, your likelihood of developing breast cancer is even higher. The risk is compounded by the dose of radiation received and the age at which you received it.
Although research has shown conflicting results when connecting diet to breast cancer risk, most studies agree that maintaining a poor diet can be a major risk factor. Eating lots of processed foods, meats, saturated fats, sugars, and the like can increase your risk for developing this disease.
Unproven causes of breast cancer
For years many women have been alarmed by myths that the use of antiperspirant deodorants and bras are risk factors for breast cancer. But so far, there’s no direct association between these behaviors and developing the disease. Other factors, like breast implants and exposure to pesticides, also show no increased risk.