Breast cancer is always caused by a genetic abnormality which refers to a ‘mistake’ in the
genetic material. However, only 5-10% cases of cancers are due to an abnormality inherited
from one’s mother or father. Instead, 85-90% of breast cancers are due to genetic
abnormalities that happen because of the aging process and the ‘wear and tear’ of life in
For women with a BRCA2 mutation, the risk is 69%. Breast cancer that is positive for the
BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations tends to develop more often in younger women.
1. Getting older: most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
2. Genetic mutations : Women who have inherited these genetic changes
are at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
3. Reproductive history: Early menstrual periods before age 12 and
starting menopause after age 55 expose women to hormones longer, raising their risk of
getting breast cancer.
4. Having dense breasts: Dense breasts have more connective tissue than
fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram. Women with
dense breasts are more likely to get breast cancer.
4. Personal history of breast cancer or certain non-cancerous breast
diseases. Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second
time. Some non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular
carcinoma in situ are associated with a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
5. Family history of breast or ovarian cancer: A woman’s risk for
breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree
relative).Having a first-degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s
6. Previous treatment using radiation therapy: Women who had radiation
therapy to the chest or breasts (like for treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma) before age 30
have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
7. Women who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), Women whose
mothers took DES while pregnant with them are also at risk.
8. Not being physically active: Women who are not physically active
have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
9. Being overweight: Older women who are overweight or obese have a
higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
10. Taking hormones: Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those
that include both estrogen and progesterone) taken during menopause can raise risk for
breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives (birth
control pills) also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
11. Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not
breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
12. Drinking alcohol: Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast
cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.