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Factors That Put You More at Risk for Breast Cancer

October is national breast cancer awareness month. Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women. While many cases of breast cancer are caused by family history or genetics, a significant percentage of cases are caused by risk factors that can be reduced.

Having risk factors for cancer doesn't mean you’ll necessarily develop cancer. However, having certain risk factors can increase the likelihood that you’ll develop cancer. In this blog, Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, explains more about the risk factors for breast cancer and how you can reduce your risk.

Nonmodifiable risk factors

Some risk factors for breast cancer can’t be significantly modified, so we’ll mention those first. 

You may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer if you have any of the following:

Your risk of developing breast cancer also increases with age, particularly after age 55. Furthermore, your chances are higher if you’re a caucasian woman or of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.

Manageable risk factors

Many of the risk factors for breast cancer are ones that you can control. In fact, many of the risk factors for breast cancer come down to lifestyle choices. Some of the most common lifestyle choices that can increase your risk of developing breast cancer include the following:

Things that aren’t risk factors

There are many myths regarding risk factors for breast cancer. Some things that people believe are risk factors aren’t risk factors at all, such as the following:

It’s especially important to keep up with regular mammograms and monthly breast self-exams, whether or not you’re at an increased risk. These screenings are your best defense against breast cancer because cancerous changes are more treatable when they’re detected early.

If you’re at risk of developing breast cancer, it’s important to work on modifying the risks that you can change. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and avoiding smoking can help you prevent several types of cancer, including breast cancer. 

If you would like to talk about your breast cancer risk or get a mammogram, book an appointment over the phone with the office of Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, today.

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