Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:
7.07.2.1 Early Onset of Menses and Late Menopause
Onset of the menstrual cycle before the age of 12 and menopause after 50 are associated with increased risk of developing breast cancer.
The types of fat are important. Monounsaturated fats such as canola oil and olive oil do not appear to increase the risk of developing breast cancer in the same way as polyunsaturated fats, corn oil, and meat.
Patients with a positive family history of breast cancer are at increased risk for developing the disease. However, 85% of women with breast cancer have a negative family history. Family history includes immediate relatives - mother, sisters, and daughters. If a family member was postmenopausal (50 or older) when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the lifetime risk is only increased by 5%. If the family member was premenopausal, the lifetime risk is 18.6%. If the family member was premenopausal and had bilateral breast cancer, the lifetime risk is 50%.
7.07.2.4 Late or no Pregnancies
Pregnancies before the age of 26 are somewhat protective.
7.07.2.5 Moderate Alcohol Intake
More than two alcoholic beverages increases the risk for breast cancer.
Most studies indicate that taking estrogen for more than 10 years may lead to a slight increase in risk for developing breast cancer. However, these studies indicate that, depending on the patient, the positive benefits of taking estrogen as far as reducing the risk for osteoporosis and colon cancer may outweigh the increase in risk that may be associated with estrogen replacement therapy.
Patients with a history of previous breast cancer are at increased risk for developing breast cancer in the other breast. This risk is 1% per year or a lifetime risk of 10%.
7.07.2.8 Therapeutic Irradiation to Chest Wall, i.e., for Hodgkin's Disease (Cancer of Lymph Nodes)
Patients who have had therapeutic irradiation to the chest are at increased risk for developing breast cancer.
7.07.2.9 Moderate Obesity
The relationship of breast cancer to obesity is more complex but is associated with an increased risk.
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