We can't control some of the risk factors for breast cancer, like being an older woman or having a close family history or personal previous history of the disease, however there are some risk factors with a direct link to breast cancer that we can influence.
Risk factors we can’t change:
1. Being a woman over 50
2. Family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer
3. Previous breast issues (breast cancer in the past, pre-cancerous breast conditions such as ductal carcinoma insitu (DCIS) or lobular carcinoma insitu (LCIS) or benign breast disease such as atypical hyperplasia
4. Dense breast tissue
5. Radiation treatment to the chest when younger
6. Hormonal factors (early menarche (first period), late menopause)
Things we can do to lower the risk of breast cancer:
1. Drink less or no alcohol. Alcohol interferes with estrogen levels and therefore raises estrogen levels in the body.
2. Exercise often, 3-5 times a week as it provides a protective factor by assisting the maintenance of a healthy body weight
3. Maintain a healthy body weight especially after menopause
4. Reduce the use of combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) , especially if used over a long period of time. Women requiring combined HRT should contact their doctor who can assess their personal risk. It is also recommended that women tell their mammographer if they are using combined HRT as it may increase breast density.
5. Having children at an earlier age and breastfeeding both reduce lifetime exposure to oestrogen.