Are you at risk for breast cancer? The short answer is yes, especially if you are a woman. That means every woman should know what she can do to reduce her risk of breast cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 1 out of every 8 women born in the United States this year will develop breast cancer sometime during her life. Breast cancer also affects men, but at a much lower rate.
It is important to understand that your risk of breast cancer does not stay the same throughout your life. Some risk factors are things you cannot control. Other risk factors are affected by your lifestyle and by choices you make.
Age is the strongest risk factor for developing breast cancer. The older you are, the higher your risk of breast cancer. At age 30, a woman’s risk is approximately 1 in 227. By age 50, her risk is 1 out of 42.
You can never be too old to develop breast cancer. Two out of three invasive breast cancers are diagnosed in women over age 55.
Even among women who are the same age, the risk factors vary. Here are six factors not related to your life choices that can affect your risk of developing breast cancer:
1) Family history
If you have a close blood relative who had breast cancer, you may be at increased risk of breast cancer. These relatives include your mother, her sister (your aunt), your sister or your daughter. Having a close male relative with breast cancer can also increase your risk.
2) Personal history
If you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, you are three to four times more likely to develop a second breast cancer. This could happen in the same breast or in the other breast.
If you had radiation therapy to your chest area, including your breasts, you are also at higher risk. The younger you were when the radiation treatments took place, the higher your risk will be as you get older.
3) Breast changes
Some women experience abnormal growth of normal cells in their breasts. This means the cells reproduce more rapidly than normal, but the cells themselves are normal, not cancerous.