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Breast Cancer Risk Factors

What is risk factor?
  • A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease like breast cancer.
  • Some risk factors you can change, some you cannot change.
  • It is important to know that even if you change those risks that increase your chances of getting breast cancer it is no guarantee that you still won't get it.
  • Some people who have one, some or all of the risk factors for breast cancer will never get it.
Some things you can't change when it comes to your risk for getting breast cancer
  • Being a woman is the single greatest risk for developing breast cancer.
  • Getting older increases a woman's risk for breast cancer, especially women over age 50.
  • Having a history of breast cancer in your family (mother, sister, daughter.)
  • No one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. It is known that bumping, bruising or touching your breasts does not cause cancer; but, there are things you can do to change your risk of getting breast cancer.

How to Reduce Your Risk

Some things you can change to help lower your risk for getting breast cancer
  • Keep your weight at a healthy level
    Studies have shown that being obese (which means weighing more than you should for both your age and your height) increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Stay active
    Do something physically active for 30 or more minutes everyday to help keep your weight at a healthy level. Try walking and gardening to stay fit.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables
    Fruits and vegetables have vitamins and minerals that can help to protect you against cancer.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
    Studies have shown a link between drinking alcohol (any kind of alcohol - beer, wine, liquor) and breast cancer. If you do drink have no more than one drink a day or don't drink at all.
  • Don't smoke
    One study showed that women who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day for 40 years increased their risk for getting breast cancer to 83%!
    Smoking increases your risk for other cancers and heart disease.
Cancer Detection Programs: Every Woman Counts offers free breast exams and mammograms to women age 40 and older. To see if you qualify for these free tests call 1-800-511-2300 Monday - Friday from 8:30 AM to 5 PM. We speak English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese.
Last modified on: 1/23/2008 10:45 PM