Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

What Causes Breast Cancer?

No single cause of breast cancer has been identified. Both genetic and hormonal factors increase a woman’s risk factors for developing breast cancer.

Here are some of the factors that can increase the chances of developing breast cancer:

  • Age (the chance of developing breast cancer increases as you get older)
  • Previous cancer in either of your breasts
  • A history of breast cancer in your family
  • A history of ovarian cancer in your family
  • Hereditary factors such as having the genetic abnormality known as BRCA1 or BRCA2
  • A history of having had radiation to your chest (for example, in the treatment of Hodgkin’s Disease)
  • Having had your first menstrual period before age 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Having your first pregnancy later in life
  • Never having been pregnant
  • Race (Caucasian women are at higher risk than African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American women)
  • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
  • Being overweight
  • Having a sedentary lifestyle
  • Alcohol consumption (studies suggest that a woman’s risk of breast cancer goes up as alcohol consumption increases)
  • Consumption of a high-fat-content diet

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