The #PinkOctober agenda continues! For the sake of those just joining the train, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we're dedicating all of this month's posts to support the cause. Last week we talked about how to perform your breast self examination, and what changes to look out for. (If you haven't read that post please click below and read so you can be in sync) 

This week we're discussing the RISK FACTORS for breast cancer. Who is at a greater risk of breast cancer? What characteristics put an individual at a higher risk than normal for breast cancer? Etc. 

1.    The first and foremost risk factor for breast cancer is being a WOMAN. Men are also affected by the disease but only 1% of the cases. Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer. So being a woman automatically increases your risk.

2.    Increasing age. Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age, most breast cancers are diagnosed in women after age 50. This does not mean that young women do not get the disease, mind you. 

3.    Genetic mutations. Women who have some inherited changes or mutations to certain genes, can increase their chances. There are a number of inherited mutated genes that can increase the chances of breast cancer which have been identified. The most common are BRCA1 and BRCA2, both of which significantly increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.

4.    Beginning your period before age 12 increases your risk of breast cancer, Women who start their periods early are exposed to hormones longer, raising the risk for breast cancer by a small amount.

5.  Starting menopause after age 55. Like starting one’s period early, being exposed to estrogen hormones for a longer time later in life also raises the risk of breast cancer.
6.   Also, menopausal women who take hormone therapy medications that combine estrogen and progesterone to treat the signs and symptoms of menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer.

7.    Late or no pregnancy. Having your first pregnancy after age 30 and also never being pregnant can raise breast cancer risk.

8.    Taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Certain forms of oral contraceptive pills have been found to raise breast cancer risk.

9.    Women who are Obese and also not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

10.    Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second time. Also, a history of other Non cancerous breast diseases increases risk.

11.    Family history of breast cancer. A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast cancer. Having a first-degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk. Still, the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

12.    Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.

13.    Previous treatment using radiation therapy. Women who have been exposed to radiation therapy for one reason or another before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.

It is important to note that there are people who have None of these risk factors and will still present with the disease. Let's be on the lookout by performing our breast self examinations periodically and by getting screened.

‼️Most importantly, please let us pass on this information to our mothers, aunties and grandmothers ESPECIALLY, who may not see all the #BreastCancerAwareness campaigns on the internet, but are at a relatively greater risk.


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