October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Statistics show that 1 in every 8 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Just as we do with any other health condition, it’s important to talk about risk factors – anything that elevates a person’s chance of being diagnosed. Some risk factors are beyond our control – we’re born with them. While others are more lifestyle based, which are often things we can modify.

Uncontrollable Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

  • Gender – Breast cancer is more common in females than males 
  • Age – Risk increases as you get older 
  • Genes – Certain genetic mutations can cause breast cancer, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Family history – Close blood relatives who have been diagnosed 
  • Ethnicity – Risk may vary depending on race 
  • Reproductive health – Early menstrual periods (before age 12) and beginning menopause later (after age 55)
  • Having dense breast tissue
  • Personal history of breast cancer or non-cancerous breast diseases
  • Previous medical treatment using radiation therapy

Lifestyle Changes That Impact Breast Cancer Risk

Fortunately, certain lifestyle factors can be modified to reduce breast cancer risk. 

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Exercise regularly and talk to your doctor if you feel like your body weight could be increasing your risk for breast cancer and other diseases.
  • Limit alcohol and tobacco use. Both substances have been shown to up your risk factors, as well as negatively impacting your overall health. 
  • Breastfeeding. Though it’s still being studied, some data shows that breastfeeding for longer periods of time slightly lowers an individual’s risk for breast cancer.
  • Adjusting hormone therapy. Some hormone replacement therapy (including estrogen and progesterone) used during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain birth control pills were also found to raise breast cancer risk.

What to Do Next

It’s important to note that having a risk factor or a combination of risk factors does not mean you will get the disease. If you have multiple factors for breast cancer, make sure to talk with your doctor about ways to screen for breast cancer and lower your risk.

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152