Am I At Risk for Breast Cancer?

***NOTE: Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean you will get the disease. It’s even possible to have no risk factors and still get breast cancer.  


  • Simply being a woman (although men can develop breast cancer too)
  • A woman aged 55 and older
  • BRAC1 & BRAC2 genes – these genes also put women at a greater risk for developing other cancers, especially ovarian cancer
  • Jewish people of Ashkenazi (Eastern Europe) origin are at a higher risk of having the BRAC gene, although anyone can have it
  • Other genes that might be linked to breast cancer: ATM, TP53, CHEK2, PTEN, CDH1, STK11, PALB2

****Consider all the pros and cons and consider speaking to a genetic counselor before having genetic testing done****

  • Family History – having a mother or sister with breast cancer doubles your risk but 85% of women who get breast cancer don’t have a family history of this disease
  • If you’ve had breast cancer in one breast you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast 
  • White women but African-American women are at a higher risk of dying from breast cancer
  • Having dense breast tissue
  • Some benign breast conditions: usual ductal hyperplasia, fibroadenoma, several papillomas, radial scars, atypical ductal hyperplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ
  • Women who’s menstrual periods began before age 12 and/or went through menopause after age 55
  • Previous chest radiation, especially if given during the adolescence years
  • Women who’ve had no children or had their first child after age 35; although pregnancy might be a link to triple-negative breast cancer
  • Oral contraceptives or the use of Depro-Provera
  • Hormone therapy after menopause
  • Not breastfeeding
  • Drinking 2+ drinks of alcohol daily
  • Being overweight or obese especially after menopause
  • Lack of physical activity (less than 90 minutes a week)
  • Diet might play a role but is currently inconclusive 
  • Low Vitamin D levels may be a risk factor but more studies are required to prove this more conclusively 
  • Long-term heavy smoking or exposure to secondhand smoking – possible risk factor but is controversial at this time 
  • Night shift workers are believed to be at a slightly higher risk
  • There’s some concern about chemicals in cosmetics, food, lawns and gardens, plastic, sunscreen, water, grilled/BBQ/smoked foods

About courage2conquercancer

At the age of 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is an account of my journey from my discovery and beyond.
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