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Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

21Dec 2022

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer among American women only after skin cancer. There are over 3 million cases in the US and 266,120 are expected to be diagnosed within the year 2018  . While certain factors like age, genetics and the inevitability of being a woman cannot be controlled, there are several risk factors you can keep in check to reduce your risk. Let’ have a look at all these factors:

What are the Causes of Breast Cancer?

Most common causes of breast cancer include-

Age, gender and family history

Inadvertently, women are at a higher risk of breast cancer with less than 1% of the total cases being diagnosed in men. But, the risk is not shared by all women alike. It has been estimated that the risk of breast cancer increases as a woman ages, with majority of the cases being diagnosed in women over 50. Women in the reproductive age are generally spared. 

Other important factor is your family history. If you have an ancestral history of the disease, it is most likely that your chances are high, and you must do your best to control other modifiable factors.

Type of breast tissue

It has been ascertained that women with a dense breast tissue are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This is because it becomes more difficult to examine tumors in them due to denser connective tissue .

Menstrual history

An early menarche and a late menopause put you at a risk of developing breast cancer.


Being overweight puts you at a greater risk of breast cancer, especially if the weight gain occurs around menopause and is more along your waist circumference. This is because of the disturbance in hormone levels caused due to obesity. Studies have found that an increase in the levels of hormone estrogen after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer. You can avoid this by taking care of your diet and being physically active.

Limited physical activity

Regular exercise not only helps to manage obesity but also helps in balancing your hormonal levels, responsible for breast cancer. Keeping this in mind, American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise in order to reduce your risk .

Reproductive factors

Your pregnancy history is a major determinant of your risk. Women who get pregnant later, usually in their 30s have a higher risk of breast cancer. This risk potentiates if they do not breastfeed their babies or the frequency of the feed is less. Further, women who have not borne a baby are also at a risk. So, it is a great idea to plan your pregnancy early whatsoever .

Not just this, the use of certain birth control methods like oral contraceptive pills, birth control shots, contraceptive implants, intrauterine devices and others like vaginal rings or skin patches have been found to contribute to a greater risk of breast cancer. So, while avoiding pregnancy, it is the safest idea to stick to condoms or femidoms.

Hormone therapy

Some women undergo hormone therapies after menopause to manage menopausal symptoms including weak bones due to osteoporosis. While these therapies may help with this concern, studies have found that they increase your risk of breast cancer and also contribute to greater mortality. This is true for all kinds of hormone therapies whether estrogen therapy or a combined one. So, it is best to steer clear from such therapies and embrace menopause while taking care of other health factors.

Breast implants

Silicone implants, breast augmentation procedures or any other surgeries used to modify the appearance of your breasts quite obviously disturb its natural physiology and increase the risk of breast cancer due to the formation of scar tissue. While you may think they improve your esthetics, they also come with a risk of a rare cancer types like anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

Alcohol consumption

Alcohol is detrimental to health in many ways and is known to increase the risk of several types of cancer, breast cancer being just one. The risk is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. While it is ideal to completely stop alcohol, if you happen to drink, stick to no more than one drink a day for your best cancer-free health.

If you want book an appoinment you can also consult with our Breast cancer doctor in gurgaon

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Sunny Garg
Dr. Sunny Garg

Best Oncologist in Gurgaon & Cancer Specialist - Oncoexperts

Dr Sunny Garg is a renowned Medical Oncologist in New Delhi with an experience of more than 10 years of treating cancer patients.

He has studied in one of the most reputed educational institutes of India. He has done his MBBS and MD Internal Medicine from Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University. Thereafter, he has undergone training in Medical Oncology (DM Medical Oncology) from Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru. He has worked in leading cancer centers in Delhi, and currently practicing at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi.

Dr Sunny Garg has extensive knowledge and experience in the field of oncology, and has treated all cancer types, in various stages, including hard to treat cases. He is well versed with various modalities for cancer treatment like Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy, Targeted Therapy, Hormonal Therapy and Personalised Cancer Therapy.