What affects your risk of getting breast cancer?

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Courtesy Susan G. Komen for the Cure

The causes of breast cancer are not fully known. However, researchers have identified a number of factors that increase one’s chances of getting breast cancer. These are called risk factors. Risk factors do not cause breast cancer, but can increase the chances of getting breast cancer. Some women have many risk factors, but never get breast cancer. And, some women have no risk factors aside from being a woman and getting older, and still get the disease. Talk to your health care provider about your personal risk.

There are some risk factors you can control, and others you cannot. Even if you do not have any of these risk factors, you can still develop breast cancer.

Factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer

Age: a major factor

A woman’s chance of getting breast cancer increases with age. Your chance by your current age is:

age 20 1 in 1,681

age 30 1 in 232

age 40 1 in 69

age 50 1 in 42

age 60 1 in 29

age 70 1 in 27

Lifetime 1 in 8

Source: American Cancer Society

Other factors:

• having an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes

• a personal history of breast or ovarian cancer

• a family history of breast cancer

• having high breast density on a mammogram

• having a previous biopsy showing hyperplasia

• lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

• being exposed to large amounts of radiation at a young age

• never having children

• having your first child after age 35

• high levels of blood androgrens or estrogens

• postmenopausal hormone use (current or recent use) of estrogen or estrogen plus progestin

• being overweight after menopause or gaining weight as an adult

• high bone density

• having more than one drink of alcohol per day

• starting menopause after age 55

• being younger than 12 at the time of your first period

• current or recent use of birth control pills