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Breast Center

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in women (the first is skin cancer). In fact, for women who live to the age of 80, one in eight will develop breast cancer. In most cases, this type of cancer forms in the milk-producing glands and ducts of the breasts. It can also form in the fatty tissues or in the lymph nodes that surround the breasts.

Breast Cancer Risks: Get Educated

There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to the development of breast cancer. Among them:

  • Family history: If people in your family - particularly a mother, sister or daughter - have had breast cancer, your risk is doubled.
  • Genetic factors: There are some inherited causes, including the mutations of certain genes. If you are concerned, you can be tested to see if the genetic problems are present in your body.
  • Gender: Breast cancer affects mostly women, but men can be diagnosed with it as well.
  • Age: Though it varies by racial and ethnic background, usually only 10 to 15 percent of breast cancer patients are under the age of 45. Most are over the age of 60.
  • Childlessness: Women who have never had children seem to be at an increased risk for breast cancer.
  • Late motherhood: Women who have had children after the age of 35 also seem to be at increased risk. However, breast-feeding seems to help lower the risk.
  • Weight: Excess weight can lead to high levels of estrogen-especially after menopause-and increased estrogen appears to be linked to breast cancer. There also seems to be a connection to high body fat around the waist.
  • Oral contraceptives: Women who have used oral contraceptives within the last 10 years are at increased risk.
  • Alcohol: Women who drink alcohol in excess - more than one drink a day - are reported to have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Although there are no fool-proof methods to prevent breast cancer, there are certain steps you can take to stay healthy.

  • Exercise: The American Cancer Society suggests that everyone participate in 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity at least five times a week. Inactive lifestyles have been linked to cancer and other illnesses.
  • Eat right: Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can help prevent cancer, so load up on the fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit alcohol: Keep your consumption to one drink (or less) a day.

There are a variety of symptoms that could indicate breast cancer; however, they vary from person to person. Keep an eye out for any of these issues:

  • A change in the size, shape or color of the breast
  • Lumps felt in or on the breast
  • A breast that is irritated or itchy
  • Discharge (other than breast milk) from a nipple
  • Change in the appearance of a nipple
  • General pain on or in the breast
  • A breast that suddenly feels hard, warm or tender

If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor right away.

Schedule your mammogram today by calling 727-820-7000.