In both the United States and across the globe, the month of October is designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month by most major breast cancer organizations and charities.

Each October, organizations promote the need for awareness and raise money for prevention, treatment, and hopefully for a cure.

Breast cancer risks

  • Being a woman. Although any gender is susceptible to breast cancer, it is far more common in women. There are over 300,000 new cases of breast cancer yearly in American women.
  • Age. Like many other conditions, risk factors are correlated with age. 66% of invasive breast cancers are found in women over the age of 55.
  • Genetics. If you have a close family member (sibling, parent, or child) with breast cancer, you are at a higher risk.
  • Personal history of breast cancer. “If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re 3 to 4 times more likely to develop new cancer in the other breast or a different part of the same breast. This risk is different from the risk of original cancer coming back (called risk of recurrence).”
  • Race/Ethnicity. White women are more likely than women of color to develop cancer. However, African American women experience more occurrences and more aggressive forms of cancer than others.
  • Child-birth. Women who have given birth before the age of 30 are at less risk than women who have never given birth or have their first child after age 30. Also, extended breastfeeding lowers your cancer risk.
  • Menstrual history. Those experiencing their periods before age 12 or who reach menopause after age 55 are at higher risk.
  • Alcohol. “Research consistently shows that drinking alcoholic beverages — beer, wine, and liquor — increases a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.”
  • Exercise. Moderate to regular exercise can decrease your risk of breast cancer.
  • Smoking. Smoking is associated with a higher risk of cancer in younger, premenopausal individuals.
  • See more about each of these in the source article, and see other risk factors.


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