The threat of breast cancer is something that every single woman worries about. "Am I at risk of developing breast cancer?" isn't just a question for some women - it's a question that every woman has to consider. Many women may feel that it's a disease that happens to other people, but it’s crucial to be aware of breast cancer risk factors to protect yourself against developing this lethal disease.
Am I At Risk For Breast Cancer?
Understanding the various breast cancer risks is extremely important in the prevention and early detection of this disease. Thankfully there are a lot of excellent charities and organizations that help raise awareness of breast cancer risks and prevention, such as; BreastCancer.org, Susan G. Comen, and Breast Cancer Action. Other great organizations like; Breast Cancer Fund, BrightPink, and Dr. Susan Love, do excellent work also.
But for now, women across the globe are still asking the same questions; “Am I at risk of developing breast cancer?” & “What are the risk factors for breast cancer?”
We put together this quick list of breast cancer risk factors for you.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Although you can develop breast cancer at any age, the older you are, the more likely you are to develop breast cancer.
Less than 5% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the US are under the age of 40. As you go beyond 40, the risks gradually increase until they reach the highest level of diagnosed cases at 70 years of age.
The median age of developing breast cancer for women in the US is 61. With this information, it’s clear that going for regular breast checks as you age is vital.
Body Weight After Menopause
Having a high BMI post menopause can lead to higher rates of developing breast cancer. A study performed on women who put on 20 pounds or more post menopause had a 18% higher risk of breast cancer. Those who stayed around the same weight that they were pre-menopause had no elevated risk factor.
It isn't even just limited to post-menopause. A recent study showed that women who gained more than 20 pounds after the age of 18 had a 15% higher chance of developing breast cancer compared to women who stayed within the same weight range. Women who put on 55 pounds or more in the same period were much more likely to develop breast cancer.
When women lost weight - especially after the menopause - studies showed a drop of 20% in the risk factor compared to those who didn't lose weight. Making sure you have a healthy BMI is important regardless, but it’s twice as important when it comes to breast cancer risk factors.
A Family History
You may or may not know that most women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease - this is why the first two factors were given priority here. Only 13% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a first degree female relative (sister, mother, grandmother, daughter) who has had breast cancer previously.
However, a woman who does have a first degree female relative with breast cancer has a dramatically increased chance of breast cancer compared to those who don't. It is two or three times higher if you have one first degree female relative who had the disease and nearly three or four times higher if you have two or more relatives with the disease.
The younger the family member was when they contracted the disease, the greater the risk. For example, if your grandmother developed breast cancer before the age of 40, you would have a massively increased risk of developing the disease at the same age or younger.
This is why it's vital that every woman talks to her family to find out about any genetic dispositions to the disease and be aware of the risk factors in advance.
Knowing these risk factors will mean you have a greater chance of detecting the disease early, which will significantly increase your chances of beating breast cancer. Modern medicine is learning more and more about cancer every day, but the best way to survive a cancer diagnosis is early detection. If these breast cancer risk factors apply to you, don't wait. Get tested! Better to be overly cautious and safe than find out too late.