6 risk factors to know about breast cancer

6 risk factors to know about breast cancer

It’s scary to think that every woman is at risk of getting cancer and the are factors that increase the risk.

Breast cancer – 6 risk factors you need to know

While every woman is potentially at risk of getting breast cancer, here are 6 risk factors to know about breast cancer that could increase the chances:

  1. Age of awareness The risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. About one out of eight invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45, while about two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women over 55.
  2. All in the family Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close relatives have this disease. Having one first-degree relative with breast cancer, like your mom or sister, can double your risk. Having two first-degree relatives increases this risk about three-fold.
  3. Second time around A woman with cancer in one breast has a three to four times increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is different from a recurrence, or return, of the first cancer.
  4. High density, higher risk Women with denser breast tissue, which will show up on a mammogram, have more glandular tissue and less fatty tissue, and have a higher risk of breast cancer. Dense breast tissue can also make it harder for doctors to spot problems on mammograms.
  5. Watch your weight Research has shown that being overweight increases your risk of breast cancer.  It also suggests that overweight and obese women diagnosed with early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer have a higher risk of the cancer coming back, and are less likely to survive the disease.
  6. Poor lifestyle choices Excessive alcohol use, little to no physical activity, smoking and diets high in saturated fats increase the risk of breast cancer.

‘Early diagnosis gives you a higher chance of complete cure and less extensive surgery,’ says Dr Godinho. ‘Early detection is a critically important factor in winning this battle. We encourage women to start with mammograms from the age of 40, whether they have symptoms or not.’

Did you know?

  • 1 in 29 South African women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer makes up more than 50 percent of all cancer diagnoses in South African women.

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