Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 232,340 cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually, in addition to 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (the first is skin cancer) and the second leading cause of death in women (the first is lung cancer).

There are a wide range of risk factors that may increase your chances of developing breast cancer, some of which involve lifestyle factors. The biggest risk factors include:

  • Gender – women are far more likely to develop breast cancer than men, but it can occur in men
  • Age – the risk of breast cancer increases with age
  • Family history – women with relatives who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop the disease
  • Race – while white women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer, African American are at a higher risk of dying from breast cancer
  • Not having children – women who have children or have breastfed have a slightly lower risk of breast cancer
  • Birth control – certain types of birth control, especially injectable contraceptives, slightly increase the risk of breast cancer
  • Obesity – excessive body weight may increase the risk of breast cancer, as can dense breast tissue, which makes early detection difficult
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