Currently, breast cancer is a very real issue; about 1 in every 8 women in diagnosed with breast cancer. And while breast cancer is not yet preventable or even entirely predictable even with our enhanced understanding of genetics, there are some risk factors you should be aware of that might increase your risk for breast cancer (especially if you already have a genetic predisposition to it, such as a family history of it).
One of the main issues with breast cancer is that even with our most advanced medical techniques, no one is entirely sure of what ultimately triggers breast cancer to develop; all we know is that it is the result of damage to our DNA, our genetic code. Once a cell has been damaged, that damage mutates and spreads, eventually manifesting as cancer.
It is also worth mentioning that there is quite a bit of misinformation in the world about what might cause breast cancer. In order to clear some of the confusion, we’ve decided to also share this list of not-actually-harmful things with you. So, some things that will not cause breast cancer are caffeine, microwaves (the energy they emit is not cancer-causing), cell phones, deodorant, or contact with someone who has cancer (cancer is not a contagious disease).
In any case, let’s move on to the real risk factors; women with these risk factors are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who do not possess these risk factors.
These risk factors can be divided into two groups, unavoidable and unavoidable.
Unavoidable risk factors are almost always genetic factors as well, qualities of your genetic makeup inherited from your family members. Because these risk factors are based on your DNA and therefore unchangeable, there is very little that can be done about them.
Some of these unavoidable risk factors include age (older women have a higher rate of cancer diagnoses), race (Caucasian women are diagnosed with breast cancer more frequently than women of other races), family medical history (if a relative of yours has been diagnosed with breast cancer, then your odds of being diagnosed are increased),and your own reproductive history (if you have a history of abnormal menstruation or menopause or gave birth at an older age, your risk for cancer might be higher).
Avoidable risk factors, meanwhile, are typically environmental and lifestyle factors that you can exhibit some control over and affect if you want to reduce your risk for developing breast cancer.
Some avoidable risk factors include a lack of physical activity (if you’re not getting enough exercise, it could increase your chances of developing breast cancer), an unhealthy diet (if you’re eating foods with too many saturated fats and not eating enough fruits and vegetables), being overweight or obese, alcohol consumption, had radiation therapy to the chest before the age of thirty, or taking combined hormone replacement therapy (for menopause).
As you can see, there is no definitive cause of breast cancer that we can determine at this time; rather, it’s a combination of factors that leads to developing it. But as mentioned above, there are some risk factors (such as alcohol consumption or eating unhealthy foods) that you can take steps to avoid in order to help reduce your odds of getting cancer.