Understanding your risk for breast cancer

Posted Date: April 23, 2015

There are numerous factors that contribute to one’s overall risk for breast cancer. Some of these factors cannot be changed, like gender, race or age. Lifestyle-related factors, however, can reduce or increase a person’s breast cancer risk.

Researchers have identified a number of factors that increase or decrease one’s risk for breast cancer. Factors linked to a higher risk of breast cancer that are not under our control include: being female, aging, a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and high breast density on a mammogram. There are, however, risk factors that we can modify through lifestyle choices. For example, there is a proven link between alcohol consumption and increased risk of developing breast cancer. There are also increased risks in women who are overweight or obese, and in some women who take hormone replacement therapy to treat menopausal symptoms. Other factors, such as vitamin intake, dietary fat, and exposure to chemicals in the environment, including tobacco smoke, are being actively investigated as potential risk factors.