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6 Conditions that Elevate Your Risk for Breast Cancer

 6 Conditions that Elevate Your Risk for Breast Cancer

More than 360,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, and more than 40,000 women die from the disease. The good news is that early diagnosis and intervention are associated with high survival rates, underscoring the need for regular mammograms and self-exams at home.

In addition to examinations, knowing your risk factors for breast cancer is important. Like other cancers, breast cancer is associated with risk factors that can be changed (modifiable risk factors) and others that can’t be altered (non-modifiable risk factors).

The team at Desert West Surgery offers state-of-the-art breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, providing care on an individual basis for optimal outcomes. Here, our team reviews six factors that can increase your own risk of breast cancer.

1. Being overweight or obese

Roughly three-quarters of American adults are overweight or obese, carrying extra pounds that can have negative consequences for their health and well-being. One of those consequences is an elevated risk of developing breast cancer.

That risk is especially high during the postmenopausal years. Women who are overweight or obese after menopause have a 20%-60% increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who maintain a healthy weight. That could be because fat tissue produces and releases estrogen, exposing your body to higher hormone levels at an older age.

2. Family history of breast cancer

Having a family history of breast cancer elevates your own risk for developing the disease, especially if you have a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer. Breast cancer is highly associated with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Knowing your family history is essential for understanding your own breast cancer risk. However, it’s vital to note that most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease, another reason why regular mammograms are so essential.

3. Benign breast disease

Benign breast disease is a term that describes noncancerous conditions in your breast tissue, including changes that can make your lumps feel lumpier or bumpier. While these conditions aren’t cancerous, they may increase your risk of developing breast cancer in the future, particularly after menopause.

Researchers think these changes are likely due to hormonal fluctuations during your reproductive years. Taking hormonal medications, including hormonal birth control, may also increase the risk of benign breast disease. If you have benign breast disease, you’ll need to be monitored with regular mammograms or ultrasounds.

4. Early menstruation or late menopause

Getting your first period before age 12 or beginning menopause after age 55 also have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. That’s because estrogen and progesterone are both associated with breast cancer. 

Early menstruation or later menopause means you’re exposed to these hormones over a longer period during your lifetime, which in turn can slightly raise your cancer risk. 

5. Dense breast tissue

If you have dense breast tissue, it simply means you have less fatty tissue relative to the amount of fibrous and glandular tissue in your breasts. On its own, dense breast tissue is nothing to worry about. However, it can increase your risk of breast cancer, and it can also make imaging your breasts with regular mammograms more challenging.

Suppose a mammogram reveals you have dense breast tissue. In that case, you may need to have additional screening using ultrasound or MRI to adequately assess your breasts and look for signs of cancer or other abnormal changes.

6. Unhealthy lifestyle habits

We already know that being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer, so it’s not surprising that a diet high in unhealthy fats, processed foods, and sugars can increase that risk, as well. In addition to leading to weight gain, these foods can also trigger hormonal imbalances that can elevate your breast cancer risks.

Leading a sedentary lifestyle and drinking too much alcohol are also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Prioritize your breast health

Most of us lead busy lives, and putting ourselves last is too easy. But when it comes to breast cancer, early detection and treatment are the keys to staying healthy, whether you have risk factors for the disease or not. 

To learn more about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and how we can help you prioritize your breast health, call Desert West Surgery and schedule a visit at the Las Vegas location nearest you.

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