A Continuing Battle – During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Know the Risk Factors

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second-leading cause of cancer death among women. Each year, it is estimated that more than 252,710 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,500 will die. 
But there is some good news. In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast-cancer incidence rates among women age 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
There are certain genetic risk factors that are associated with breast cancer. These include:
• Gender. Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.
• Age. Two out of three women with invasive cancer are diagnosed after age 55.
• Race. Breast cancer is diagnosed more often in caucasian women than women of other races.
• Family history and genetic factors. If your mother, sister, father, or child has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the future. Your risk increases if your relative was diagnosed before the age of 50.
• Personal health history. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the other breast in the future. Also, your risk increases if abnormal breast cells have been detected before.
• Menstrual and reproductive history. Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after 55), having your first child at an older age, or never having given birth can also increase your risk for breast cancer.
• Certain genome changes. Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase your risk for breast cancer. This is determined through a genetic test, which you may consider taking if you have a family history of breast cancer. Individuals with these gene mutations can pass the gene mutation onto their children.
• Dense breast tissue. Having dense breast tissue can increase your risk for breast cancer and make lumps harder to detect.
Environmental and lifestyle risk factors for breast cancer can include lack of physical activity, a diet high in saturated fat and lacking fruits and vegetable, being overweight or obese (a risk that is increased if you have already gone through menopause), frequent consumption of alcohol, having radiation therapy to the chest before age 30, and taking combined hormone replacement therapy, as prescribed for menopause.
However, is important to note that 60{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} to 70{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of people with breast cancer have no connection to these risk factors at all, and other people with risk factors will never develop cancer.