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Breast Cancer - Risk Factors

Breast Cancer - Risk Factors
in Oncology

Apr 19, 2022

Breast cancer is the leading cause of female cancer in effluent societies including India and its incidence is rising rapidly in our country. Breast cancer predominantly is a disease of women but rarely men can also get the disease. The average woman has about  10 to 15 percent chance of developing breast cancer if she lives into her 90s. Certain risk factors can increase the chance of developing breast cancer especially those 5-10% woman with a strong family history who also inherits one of the genes called as BRCA1 & BRCA2, which predispose her to breast and ovarian cancer risk of over 50 percent.


Breast cancer is a disease of women and occurs 100 times more than in men. Breast cancer incidence rises with age until the age of 75 to 80.

Hormonal factors

Prolonged use of post menopausal hormone treatment specially those with age > 50 have increased risk of breast cancer.

Reproductive factors

Women with a younger age at menarche (when menses begins) and a later age at onset of menopause (when menses end) have increase breast cancer risk. This is due to the longer overall exposure to female hormones (estrogen) in a woman’s lifetime.

Women who give birth multiple times and breastfeed their children longer have less chance of breast cancer than those who either have no children or do not breastfeed their newborns.

Lifestyle factors 

Obesity is associated with an increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer where as increased physical exercise appears to protect against breast cancer. Alcohol and smoking (both active and passive) is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. It is the amount of alcohol consumption that is risk factor for breast cancer and not the type of alcohol (liquor versus beer versus wine).

Family history of breast cancer is an important risk factor, however all having a family history will not get breast cancer.

Diagnosing breast cancer

Breast cancer is suspected when a lump or other abnormal change over breast are seen.

Breast cancer is one of the commonest cancers in females. Life style modification reduces the risk to a certain extent. All females are to remain vigilant to this disease and if any lump is felt they should immediately come for consultation.