What affects your risk of breast cancer?
The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully known. No one knows why one person gets breast cancer, yet another doesn’t. However, some things increase (or decrease) the chance of getting breast cancer, called risk factors.
Breast Cancer is complex and likely caused by a combination of multiple risk factors. Some you can control, like leading a healthy lifestyle, while some are out of your control, like getting older.
Since you can only control some factors, you cannot completely avoid the chance of getting breast cancer. Plus, most of the risk factors that can be mitigated have only a minimal effect on the probability of developing the disease. This means no one behavior will prevent breast cancer, but it also means there’s no single factor that will guarantee cancer will develop. The best advice in breast cancer prevention is to talk with your doctor about your risk.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Most people with breast cancer were at average risk. We don’t know which factors came together to cause breast cancer. However, some healthy lifestyle choices may reduce the risk of cancer:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Add exercise to your routine.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Limit menopausal hormone use.
- Breastfeed, if you can.
Get the facts about breast cancer
Because the causes of breast cancer are not fully known, there are many myths about the disease. Here are some basic facts to know:
- The most common risk factors for breast cancer are being female and getting older.
- Risk factors can vary by race and ethnicity.
- Most women who get breast cancer don’t have a family history of breast cancer
- Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Wearing a bra doesn’t cause breast cancer.
Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. for safe, accurate, and current breast cancer information.
Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (the Gail Model) is often used by doctors to estimate risk. Although the tool can estimate your risk, it cannot tell whether you’ll get breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society provides information on breast cancer awareness, diagnosis, treatment, and staying well after treatment.