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Breast Cancer: Causes & Risk Factors


The doctors know about the causes of breast cancer that when the cells begin to grow abnormally. Their growth rate is greater than that of normal cells. Most of these cells club together to create a mass or lump. Some of the cells spread to other surrounding areas.

In most cases, breast cancer originates in the milk-producing ducts inside the breast and is known as invasive ductal carcinoma. In some cases, it may also originate in the lobules. Such cancers are known as invasive lobular carcinoma.

Risk Factors

Researchers and doctors do not know what triggers the abnormal growth of cells. There are many factors which are believed to increase the risk of breast cancer. There are genetic, hormonal, lifestyle, and environmental factors which increase the risk.

If you come from a family with a history of breast cancer and carry specific symptoms of breast cancer, ask your doctor to undergo a blood test to identify mutations in certain types of genes. Moreover, you should always get regular check-ups done even if you do not have any symptoms.

Years of observation and research suggests certain factors which can make you a likely victim of breast cancer. Still, there have been cases where women with high risk didn’t fall victim to cancer while women with no risk at all got cancer.

Old age with a family history of breast cancer is a major risk factor.

Risk Factors You Cannot Change

Being a woman

Being a woman increases your risk 100 times to get breast cancer compared to men.

Having a history with breast cancer

If you had had breast cancer earlier, you would carry the risk of getting a different type of breast cancer either in the other breast or in a different part of the same breast. This is different than the recurrence of the same breast cancer.

Old age

The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. Out of all the women diagnosed with breast cancer, close to 77% are more than 50 years in age, and 40% of women are more than 65 years in age.

In the age group of 40-50 years, the chance of developing breast cancer is 1 in 68.

Straight forward history of the family

If you have a first-degree relative who has cancer, your risk doubles. If there exist two first degree relatives with a history of breast cancer, then your risk of getting cancer triples. By saying first degree, I mean having a mother, sister, or daughter with a history of breast cancer.


As we discussed earlier, 5-10% of cases result from genetic mutations. Now you already know about BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Dense breasts

Having dense breasts puts you at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Your breasts consist of fatty, glandular, and fibrous tissues. Women with dense breasts have less fat and more glandular and fibrous tissues. This increases the risk of cancer by 1.5 to 2 times.

Breast lesions

Having typical hyperplasia (lobular or ductal) or lobular carcinoma in situ increases a woman’s breast cancer risk by four to five times.

Distant family history

Even if your distant relatives (i.e., 2nd or 3rd degree) had an account with breast cancer, it is a risk factor for you.

Last breast biopsy which was not normal

Women who have undergone biopsies earlier and are showing any of the following signs have a slightly increased risk. Fibroadenomas with sophisticated features, solitary papilloma, and sclerosing adenosis.

Hormonal and reproductive history

The more estrogen hormone your body produces, the higher the risk is. Early beginning of the menstrual cycle and late arrival of menopause also increases the risk. This means if you got your first period before you were 12 years in age, and your menopause arrived after you crossed 55 years in age, and you never had a single pregnancy. This increases your lifetime exposure to estrogen.

Inherited Breast Cancer

Research suggests that 5-10% of breast cancer cases are linked to genetic mutations passed through generations. Researchers have identified many genes which can significantly increase the risk of breast cancer if they undergo modifications. The most well-known among such genes are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA 1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA 2). They make you significantly more prone to cancer.

Radiation treatment

Exposure to the excessive amount of radiation also increases the risk. If you had undergone treatment for any other cancer through radiation therapy, it increases the risk of breast cancer.

History of other types of cancer in the family

If any of your family members had ovarian cancer before the age of 50, your risk is increased.

Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES)

Many women intake this drug between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. If you or your mother has taken this drug, your odds of breast cancer go up.

Risk Factors You Can Change

Not being physically active

When women do not pay attention to their daily routine and do not involve many physical activities in their day-to-day work, makes them more prone to have breast cancer. It has been noticed that breast cancer is among those who are less active in physical work. Daily exercise will avoid breast cancer.

You are not overweight

Weight maintenance is very important for every person. Women generally after menopause are advised to focus and maintain their weight. After menopause, fat tissues are the main source of estrogens in the body. High Estrogen level leads to breast cancer. Therefore weight maintenance is very important to avoid breast cancer, especially after menopause.


Reduction of fat from the diet will take women more away from breast cancer. Diet should be adequate and should be full of proper nutrition your body needs.

Try to take food which has a high level of omega-3 fatty acid.

Alcohol consumption

Breast cancer among women also increases according to their consumption of alcohol. High intake of alcohol can lead to breast cancer. Alcohol controls the liver level to limit blood levels of harmony estrogen.


Smoking is very harmful to women. Smoking not only leads to breast cancer but is also the reason for many problems in our body.

Taking hormones can be avoided

At the time of menopause taking Hormone replacement therapies which include both estrogen and progestogen can raise the risk of having breast cancer; hence such therapies should be avoided.

Reproduction history of the mother

Reproducing after the age of 30 and not breastfeeding child can lead to breast cancer. This condition raises more towards breast cancer when the pregnancy is not the full-term pregnancy.

Recent oral contraceptive pills

Using oral contraceptive pills leads to breast cancer but only for a limited period. Women who don’t use these pills for more than ten years don’t have any increased breast cancer.

Factors Not Related to Breast Cancer

The things which do not affect your risk of breast cancer:

Using antiperspirants

There is no clear evidence that is using antiperspirants cause breast cancer. Using aluminium-containing antiperspirant doesn’t cause any breast cancer.

Wearing underwire bras

There is not any link between underwired bra and breast cancer. Surveys and researches have proved that there is not any real difference between those who wear an underwired bra or normal bra in terms of breast cancer.

Abortion or miscarriage

The researches and surveys have proven that there is no clear evidence between breast cancer and abortion or miscarriages. In contrast, the hormonal changes at the time of miscarriage can sometimes lead to breast cancer.

Having fibrocystic breast changes (dense breast tissue with benign cysts)

Fibrocystic breast changes are common and don’t lead to breast cancer. The fibrocystic breast can make it more difficult for the doctor to identify potentially cancerous lumps during breast exams and mammography.

Multiple pregnancies

Mothers with twin baby don’t increase the risk of breast cancer, whereas significantly has seen to decrease the risk of breast cancer. But in the case of IVF treatment gives rise to the risk of breast cancer.

Coffee and caffeine

People nowadays are so fond of drinking coffee and coffee has been now a part of their daily routine, and they can have around 3 cups of coffee a day. The good news for women is that caffeine or coffee consumption doesn’t cause any increase in breast cancer, whereas it has been tied to lower the risk of breast cancer.

Using hair dye

Permanent hair dyes or hair colours can lead to breast cancer, whereas temporary hair colours and hair dyes don’t cause any harm to your breast and are free from the risk of breast cancer

Prevention From Breast Cancer

By avoiding some bad things and accepting some new habits in our daily life can prevent the risk of breast cancer. There are many habits in our daily life which we do not realize and can be harmful to us and can be the reason for breast cancer. There are few habits which you can prevent as the prevention from breast cancer. Those are:

Limit alcohol

Alcohol is directly related to many bad things that happen in our body, i.e. the more alcohol we will consume the more risk of breast cancer will increase.

Don’t smoke

Smoking is injurious to health. Smoking regularly can lead to the rise of breast cancer. Therefore to avoid breast cancer, one must avoid smoking.

Weight control

Weight management is very important to lead a happy life. Mismanagement with weight can lead to many problems and risk arises in the case of breast cancer.

Be physically activate

Regular exercise and daily physical activities can avoid the risk of breast cancer. The adults should aim for 150 minutes daily in a week for physical activities to lead a healthy life.


Best feeding is one the natural activity, and if we avoid breastfeeding, we will give raises the breast cancer. Therefore it is advisable to go for breastfeeding. The longer you will provide breastfeeding the longer and greater proactive effect you will have.

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