Although doctors don’t know the exact cause of breast cancer beyond the fact that it stems from damage to a cell’s DNA, several factors can affect your risk of it. Many of the known risk factors for breast cancer are beyond your control, for example, family history or having dense breasts. But you can control others, such as obesity, low exercise levels, and alcohol use. Exposure to too much estrogen, a female hormone that stimulates breast cell growth in many types of breast cancer, is another risk factor – some exposure to this hormone and substances that mimic it are controllable, while others are not.
Having any of these risk factors doesn’t mean you will get breast cancer, nor does their absence mean you won’t! The number one risk is being female, and aging (though a huge privilege!) increases risk. The best way to manage risk is to live a healthy lifestyle and practice early detection which includes discussing your individual risk factors and appropriate screening methods (and when to do them) with your medical professional.
Camp Kesem: Children of parents with cancer can attend Camp Kesem free summer camps.
Help for Cancer Caregivers: Helps cancer caregivers manage their own health and wellness needs.
Men Against Cancer: Educates and empowers men to provide support for loved ones with cancer.
Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer: Supporting mothers whose daughters have breast cancer.
Learn more about risk factors and impacts on racial and ethic groups along with the LGBTQ+ community on our Embrace Blog.
Pink and red ribbons are closer than you think. Recent research highlights the increased necessity for breast cancer survivors and their doctors to focus more on heart health. Often women diagnosed with breast cancer have pre-existing conditions specifically diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure that raise the overall risk for heart disease. These risk factors are even higher once treatment for breast cancer begins. It becomes important for breast cancer survivors to work closely with their doctors to manage current and future risk of heart disease.
Here is what we know: According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women (1 out of 3 each year) and can sometimes be a complication of breast cancer treatments. Survivors are more likely to die from heart disease than a cancer recurrence. The problems directly related to cancer include fluid buildup around the heart or through treatments that target cancer including radiation and chemotherapy.
What can you do: A heart-healthy diet and exercise can help with both breast cancer and heart disease. This is especially true during treatment – even a small amount of exercise and a healthy diet can help.