Breast cancer refers to a group of diseases that affect the tissues of the breasts. Breast cancer isn’t completely preventable, and many factors that contribute to breast cancer are beyond your control. Knowing common breast cancer causes is still important, however. Recognizing the causes of breast cancer and understanding your risk can help you know when to speak to a medical professional.
Being a woman immediately, and drastically, increases your risk for breast cancer. Women are 100 times more likely than men to develop breast cancer.
Another one of the major breast cancer causes is age. Your cells divide throughout your lifetime. The older you are, the more cell divisions have taken place, and the more opportunities for a mistake in cell divisions. These mistakes are known as mutations, and they cause cancers.
Dense breast tissue
Breasts are mostly composed of fatty tissue and dense tissue. Breast cancer occurs in dense breast tissue. The more dense breast tissue you have, the more likely it is for breast cancer to develop.
Breast density can’t be measured by the way breasts feel. The only way to know breast density is through mammography.
Family history and genetics
Women with a family history of breast cancer are more likely to develop breast cancer themselves.
Also, genetic factors – such as having BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes – increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
Women who have their first child after the age of 30, or women who do not go through pregnancy at all, are at a higher risk for breast cancer. Other factors associated with an increased risk of breast cancer include being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, and drinking alcohol in excess.
What can you do to protect yourself from breast cancer?
Breast cancer is common. It’s the most common type of cancer in women after skin cancer, and roughly 1 out of 8 women will develop breast cancer. Here are a few things that you can do to reduce your risk for breast cancer.
If you notice changes in your breast – whether it’s size, shape, feel, or appearance – make an appointment with a medical professional. Of course, you cannot always detect breast cancers, which is why breast cancer screening is so important. The Breast Center recommends annual screening mammograms for all women starting at age 40.
Roughly 5-10% of breast cancers are hereditary. Genetic testing can help determine whether or not you are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer. If you have a family history or personal history of cancer, you may want to consider a risk assessment consultation where you will meet with a nurse specially trained in discussing risk and risk reduction to develop a customized screening plan.
Whether you need to schedule a mammogram, set up a risk assessment consultation, or just discuss questions or concerns about your breast health, The Breast Center is here to help. Call 479-442-6266, or request an appointment online.