5 Things That Are Raising Your Breast Cancer Risk Without Even Realizing It

Did you know that October is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month?  This is the time when we need to pay more attention to the prevention of this disease, which is likely to strike one in eight women at certain point of their lifetime.  Even though obesity and family history of the disease are well-known contributors to the onset of this disease, there are certain things that also increase the risk of developing it. Among them are:

1. Alcohol

There is a strong link between drinking alcohol and an increased breast cancer risk and is believed that the more alcohol you drink, the bigger the risk.  As reported by the American Cancer Society, women who have 2-5 drinks daily increase their breast cancer risk by one and a half percent compared to those who don’t consume alcohol.

Alcohol changes the way a woman metabolizes estrogen, which in turn leads to an elevated estrogen level in the blood, according to The Susan G Koman Foundation.  Although the reason remained unclear, it has been found that higher estrogen levels are directly linked to the development of breast cancer.

2. Having Children Later In Life (or not at all)

The American Cancer Society reports that having children later in life or not having at all is likely to raise breast cancer risk.  As reported by the National Cancer Institute, pregnancy reduces the total accumulation of estrogen in the body as it decreases the number of menstrual cycles a woman has during her lifetime.  It is worth mentioning that the earlier a woman has her first child, the lower the risk.  Additionally, the more children she has, the lower the breast cancer risk.

3. Not Breastfeeding

Even though the relation between breastfeeding and breast cancer risk is poorly understood, researchers believe that breastfeeding lowers the risk of developing breast cancer.  The longer women breastfeed, the lower the risk, according to the American Cancer Society.

It is believed that the increased risk has something to do with the amount of estrogen in woman`s body. Just like pregnancy protection, breastfeeding decreases the number of menstrual cycles, which in turn lowers the risk by reducing the accumulation of estrogen.

4. Birth Control

Although oral birth control is generally safe to use,  it has been found that some forms raise the breast cancer risk. According to The American Cancer Society, Depo-Provera, an injectable form of progesterone may increase breast cancer risk.  But, as reported by the site,  there is no risk in women five years they stop getting the shots.

Some studies found that oral birth control has a higher risk of breast cancer when compared to women who have never used them, but the risk ends once they stop using it.

5. Night Work

Night work is also associated with higher breast cancer risk, probably due to hormonal changes.  As reported by The Breast Cancer Fund, this has something to do with the changes in melatonin levels, a hormone which is affected by body`s exposure to light.  High levels of melatonin at night are vital for regulation of many hormones, including estrogen.


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