September 28, 2012
• Gender: Breast cancer is 100 times more likely to occur in women than men.
• Aging: Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. About 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45, while about 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older.
• Family history of breast cancer: Having a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk about 3-fold.
• Dense breast tissue: Women with denser breast tissue (as seen on a mammogram) have more glandular tissue and less fatty tissue, and have a higher risk of breast cancer
• Race and Ethnicity: Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. In women under 45 years of age, however, breast cancer is more common in African-American women. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
All of the above represent risk factors that you cannot change. However, there are many steps you can take to lower your risk of getting breast cancer as well. Improving your diet, quitting smoking, and drinking less alcohol are all controllable measures. Additionally, if you do have breast cancer, catching it early can be critical. Talk to your doctor about additional screening and preventative measures.