Did you know that the majority of women with breast cancer have no known risk other than being a female? Did you know there are women with multiple risk factors who never develop breast cancer? As a naturopathic physician, it’s my job to educate you on your risks so you can lower them and help protect yourself.
First and foremost, being an aging woman increases your risk of developing breast cancer (but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything! Women are awesome!).
Second, if you have had breast cancer before then your risk greatly increases.
Having a first-degree relative such as your mother, daughter, or sister moderately increases your risk. The further away in your family tree (ie. your aunt, great grandma or cousin), the less risk you have.
Speaking of family trees, if you have the genetic mutation for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, then you are at a very high risk.
Still keeping you at risk but not nearly as high as the above factors includes the following:
Your estrogen exposure – either because you started your periods early in life (before age 12), or ended them later in life (after age 55), or both means that you had more cycles of estrogen in your body. Likewise, exposure to estrogen from the birth control pill or hormone replacement also increases your risk.
The age you had children – having your first child after the age of 30 increases your risk as does never having children.
Your weight affects your risk – carrying extra pounds especially in the abdomen and especially after menopause is a problem on many levels and for many risks besides cancer.
Alcohol consumption – as the new research points out, any more than two drinks per week (yes, that’s PER WEEK!) increases your risk of breast cancer.
Prior exposure to radiation – if you have had excess radiation exposure to your chest wall and/or breasts, that increases your risk.
If you have had a breast biopsy and the results were ‘ductal hyperplasia’ or ‘complex fibroadenoma,’ then you are at a higher risk.
Caucasian women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer; however, African American women are slightly more likely to die from it.