Why does breast cancer occur? Known Risk Factors

 Why does breast cancer occur? Known Risk Factors


Breast cancer is a difficult and frequently perplexing condition. It is unclear what causes normal cells to proliferate and grow out of control. ¹

The likelihood of breast cancer is known to be increased by a number of hormonal, genetic, lifestyle, and environmental risk factors. But it's also true that some people nonetheless develop breast cancer while having little to no risk factors, while others who have a lot of risk factors do not.

Having said that, here is what is known about breast cancer's causes and risk factors that may make it more likely to occur.

Why does breast cancer occur?

Breast cancer develops when breast cells grow abnormally, to put it simply. Researchers believe that these cellular alterations are the result of a complex interplay between hereditary and environmental variables, however, the exact origin of each breast cancer patient's condition may never be understood.

In addition to building up into a mass or lump as aberrant cells divide, they can also spread (metastasize) to other organs, such as the lymph nodes.

Invasive ductal carcinoma, which affects both men and women, is the type of breast cancer that typically begins in the milk production ducts. Other breast cancers, such as invasive lobular carcinoma, begin in cells of other breast tissue, such as glandular tissue known as lobules.

Gene mutations must also be mentioned in this context. Between 5 and 10 per cent of all breast cancers, according to research, are thought to be caused by hereditary gene mutations, which are handed down through DNA from one generation to the next. The two most well-known inherited gene mutations known to raise the risk of breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2.

In reality, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumour suppressor genes that, when they work as they should, prevent breast cells from developing improperly. However, when these genes develop a mutation and stop working as they should, the chance of breast (as well as ovarian) cancer rises. One in 500 women, according to the CDC, has a mutation in one of her BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. 

Ask your doctor about genetic testing if you're interested in learning more about your personal hereditary risk of breast and other cancers.

Risk factors for breast cancer

Women have a substantially higher risk of developing breast cancer than do males. One in eight American women will get this type of cancer at some point in their lifetime. In contrast, a man born in the United States today has a one-in-800 risk of developing breast cancer over the course of his lifetime.

Unknown risk factors for male breast cancer exist. The majority of males have no known risk factor other than advanced age, despite the fact that studies have found a small number of genetic and environmental factors that may be involved. On average, male breast cancer is discovered at age 71.

Risk factors in women are much more understood. However, neither a woman's lack of risk factors nor the presence of one (or more) risk factors predetermines her to get breast cancer in the future.

Women are more likely to get breast cancer when the following risk factors are present:


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends yearly mammograms for women of average risk beginning at age 40 because the risk of breast cancer increases with age.


Compared to men, women are far more likely to acquire breast cancer.

Individual and family background

Breast cancer risk is increased by a personal history of lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells discovered in the breast's milk-producing glands) or atypical hyperplasia (non-cancerous alterations in breast cells). The probability of acquiring cancer in the other breast is likewise increased if one breast has a history of malignancy. Furthermore, your risk is increased if breast cancer runs in your family.

Drinking Alcohol

The likelihood of acquiring breast cancer increases as a woman's alcohol use increases.


Breast cancer risk increases with any type of chest-area radiation therapy in adolescence or youth.

Age of menstruation

Your risk of developing breast cancer rises if you first had your period before age 12.

Age of menopause

Your risk of breast cancer rises if you begin menopause after age 55.

Age at childbirth

Your risk increases if you give birth to a kid after you are 30.


Breast cancer is more common in women who have never been pregnant than in those who have given birth one or more times.

Hormone Treatment

The chance of developing specific types of breast cancer is raised by menopause hormone therapy, particularly by any form that combines oestrogen and progesterone.

Body Weight

In postmenopausal women, a greater body mass index (a measure of body fat) is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Research suggests that the increased risk of breast cancer may be caused by additional fat cells, which produce oestrogen.


Breast cancer develops as a result of cell mutation and growth. It's not always obvious what causes those modifications. According to research, environmental, hormonal, genetic, and lifestyle factors could be at play. There is a tonne of research on what can cause breast cells to grow out of control because women are far more likely than males to acquire breast cancer. Women can start a discussion with their healthcare professionals about preventive measures, such as breast cancer screening, by being aware of the risk factors for breast cancer.

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