Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, and it is said that it is the second maincause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. Breast cancer usually starts in the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply them with milk. From there, it can spread to other parts of the body.
According to studies, there are several types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of spreading to other body tissues. However, the exact causes of breast cancer are not yet fully known, but a number of risk factors have been identified by the doctors.
The month of October is set aside to ramp up awareness of Breast Cancer and aims to increase knowledge of how we can help beat one of the most common cancers in women. As medical professionals, campaigners, patients and survivors observe the Breast Cancer Awareness month; IBTimes Singapore has listed the top 10 risk factors regarding the ailment.
Experts claim that the risk of breast cancer increases with age. At 20 years, the chance of developing breast cancer in the next decade is 0.6 percent. By the age of 70 years, this figure goes up to 3.84 percent.
The doctors say that if a close relative has or has had, breast cancer, then the risk is higher to get breast cancer. Women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer or both. These genes can be inherited. TP53 is another gene that is linked to a greater breast cancer risk.
3. Body weight
Doctors say that women who are suffering from obesity or excess bodyweight after menopause may have higher risk of developing breast cancer because of higher levels of estrogen. Adding to this, experts say that high sugar intake may also be a factor.
4. History of breast cancer/lumps
According to doctors, women, who have had breast cancer before, are more likely to suffer from it again. Meanwhile, women who have some types of benign, or non-cancerous breast lumps have higher chances of developing cancer later.
5. Breast tissue
Doctors say that breast cancer is more likely to develop in higher density breast tissue.
6. Radiation exposure
A person who is exposed to radiation have higher chances of getting breast cancer in later stages of her life.
7. Estrogen exposure and breast-feeding
Experts claim that those women who are exposed to estrogen for a longer period are more prone to the risk of breast cancer. This could be due to starting periods earlier or entering menopause later than average. The estrogen levels between these times are quite high. However, experts add that breast-feeding, especially for over one year, appears to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. This is because pregnancy followed by breastfeeding reduces exposure to estrogen.
8. Alcohol consumption
Studies have revealed that alcohol consumption plays a key role in case of cancer patients. Women who consume more than 3 drinks a day have a 1.5 times higher risk.
9. Hormone treatments
Researchers have often linked the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and oral birth control pills to breast cancer. They claim that this happens due to the increased levels of estrogen.
10. Occupational hazards
A study in 2012 had revealed that exposure to certain carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, for example in the workplace, could be linked to breast cancer. Meanwhile, Researchers in 2007 suggested that working night shifts could increase the risk of breast cancer.