The biggest risk for developing breast cancer is being a woman. Men can — and do — get breast cancer, but 99% of new breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women.
Dr. Parisa Pourzand counsels all of her patients who have risk factors about breast cancer prevention. Since October is breast cancer awareness month, we’d like to take some time to thoroughly discuss breast cancer risk factors, as well as what you can do to manage your personal risk for developing the disease.
Assessing your personal risk
The list of risk factors is quite long, and some of them are more clearly problematic than others. Some of the things that raise the chances you’ll develop breast cancer include:
Two out three new cases are in women over the age of 55.
Having a mother, sister, or daughter who had breast cancer doubles your risk.
5-10% of cases of breast cancer are the result of genetic abnormalities, passed from parent to child.
If you’ve already had breast cancer, you’re three to four times more likely to have it again.
If you had radiation therapy to your chest or neck before you were 30, you have a higher risk of breast cancer.
Other, benign breast conditions
Having some other breast conditions raise your risk of breast cancer.
White women are more likely to get breast cancer, but Black, Asian, and Hispanic women are more likely to get an aggressive form of the disease.
Overweight or obese women are more likely to develop breast cancer, compared to women of a healthy weight, particularly after menopause.
Women who haven’t carried a child to full term, or who have their first child after the age of 30 have a greater likelihood of developing breast cancer.
If you started your period before you were 12 years old, or you’re still having them after the age of 55, you have a higher risk of breast cancer.
Smoking, drinking alcohol, not exercising, and using hormone replacement therapy all increase your risk of breast cancer.
There is a long list of chemicals in common products, such as sunscreen, makeup, foods, and lawn and garden products, among many others, that increase your risk of breast cancer.
Exposure to light at night
If you work second or third shift, indoors or under bright light, you have a greater chance of developing breast cancer.
What you can do
One of the first things you can do to limit your risk is talk to Dr. Pourzand. Understanding that, as a woman, you are at risk, then assessing other risk factors gives you a good idea of why you should be concerned.
You can also aim to maintain a healthy weight through eating a varied, nutritious diet and regular exercise. Don’t smoke, and limit alcohol consumption. All of those choices will both lower your risk of breast cancer and improve your overall health.
If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may want to consider being tested for genes that predict breast cancer. Finally, screenings such a mammograms can detect breast cancer early and improve outcomes.
Are you ready to learn more about your personal risk of breast cancer? Book an appointment with Dr. Pourzand. We have an office in Los Angeles and one in Glendale; you can schedule an appointment at either by phone or online.