Breast Cancer Risk Factors
There are many factors that are related to breast cancer. We cannot control many of these factors, but some of them we can.
Risk factors include:
- Age — the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age, especially above the age of 60 years.
- The age at which you have children — the risk increases as your age of having children increases. The risk is higher for those women who do not have children at all.
- Onset of menstruation — the risk is increased if menstruation started at a very young age, i.e. under 12 years.
- Family history — the risk is increased if family members, from either your mother’s or father’s side, had or have breast cancer or if your mother had breast cancer before menopause.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy — this increases estrogen levels and may increase the risk of breast cancer if taken over extended periods of time, i.e. longer than 5 years. However, HRT has a protective effect against heart disease and osteoporosis. Taking HRT for a longer time needs to be a careful decision made between you and your doctor.
- Smoking — this increases the risk of all types of cancer.
- Obesity — increases the risk of breast cancer, and other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Eating healthy foods and being active will help to reduce and/or maintain body weight.
- High alcohol intake — drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of breast cancer substantially.