How Susceptible are You and Your Clients?

When dealing with cancer, risk factors can estimate how high of a risk a person has, but cannot actually predict if someone will develop a certain cancer. Many women and men who have multiple risk factors for breast cancer never develop the disease, and many who develop the disease have no risk factors at all. The following are common risk factors you and your clients should be aware of:

Gender – Gender is a major risk factor because women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
Age – The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Young people can develop breast cancer, but are not as likely.
Heredity – Heredity has a role as 5 to 10 percent of cases are formed because of inherited genes. What usually causes hereditary breast cancer is the mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which prevent cancer. Genetic tests can be done to look for these mutations.
Dense Breast Tissue – Breasts have fatty, fibrous, and glandular tissue. Dense breast tissue is defined as that which contains more fibrous and glandular tissue than fatty tissue. People with dense breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Radiation – If someone has had radiation therapy, they are more susceptible to breast cancer. This risk factor is greater if the person was an adolescent at the time of the treatment. Radiation treatment that occurred to someone over 40 years of age does not affect the development of breast cancer.
Pregnancy – Women who gave birth while over the age of 30 have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women who have given birth to many children or had children at a young age have a lower risk.
Birth Control – Using an oral contraceptive can increase a woman’s risk factor. Women who stopped taking the pill over 10 years ago do not have a higher risk factor because the risk goes back to normal over time.
Drinking Alcohol – Drinking alcohol increases a person’s risk of developing breast cancer. Those who have two or more drinks daily are most susceptible.

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