Every woman has a risk of developing breast cancer. Although the risk is higher with age, young women are also at risk and should perform routine self-exams.
Here is a list of 10 reasons why a woman can have an increased risk of developing breast cancer:
1. Overweight and obese women. Some breast cancers feed on estrogen and fat cells make estrogen. If you are overweight, here are some useful tips from the Mayo Clinic.
2. About 5 to 10 percent of cases are hereditary. This means the disease resulted directly from genetic mutations that were inherited from a parent. Younger women who are diagnosed tend to have an inherited risk that sometimes they were not aware of. If you don't have knowledge of your family medical history, here are some tips from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
3. The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Other gene mutations that also have an inherited risk include mutations of the ATM gene, TP53 gene, CHEK2 gene, PTEN gene, CDH1 gene, STK11 gene and the PALB2 gene. Unfortunately genetic testing might not be covered by some health insurance plans. Here are some tips from the American Cancer Society about when it is important to get tested.
4. Women who had their first menstrual period before age 12. This is directly linked to the body's exposure to estrogen and it is related to the risk for estrogen positive cancers. Here is a link to a quiz by the National Institutes of Health.
5. Women who went through menopause after age 55. This is directly linked to the body's exposure to estrogen and it is related to the risk for estrogen-positive cancers. Here is a list of suggestions to lower the risk by the American Cancer Society.
6. Women who had their first full-term pregnancy after age 30. This is directly linked to the body's exposure to estrogen and it is related to the risk for estrogen positive cancers. Here is the Susan G. Komen's risk factors table.
7. Women who have never had a full-term pregnancy. This is directly linked to the body's exposure to estrogen and it is related to the risk for estrogen positive cancers. Here is the Bright Pink Assess Your Risk quiz.
8. 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers develop in women younger than 45. This is a reminder that although it is rare to be diagnosed with breast cancer in your early 20s and 30s, it is not impossible. Here is a list of important statistics by the Young Survival Coalition.
9. About 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older. There are several different types of breast cancers. The most common are invasive ductal carcinoma, lobular carcinoma in situ, and ductal carcinoma in situ. Here is a list of types and definitions by Breastcancer.org.
10. All cancers are genetic, but not all cancers are hereditary. About 85 percent of cases occur in women who didn't have a family history. In their case, the genetic mutations happened as a result of the aging process. Here is a complete explanation from the National Cancer Institute.
Source: The American Cancer Society, National Institutes of Health, Young Survival Coalition, Breastcancer.org and Cancer.gov.