I recently noticed an odd lump which began to grow on my left breast. At first, I thought it was just a sweat bump, but as it increased in size my mind went straight to breast cancer. I am only 28, this isn’t possible. I vicariously researched breast cancer and the likelihood of developing this deadly killer at such a young age. I found some habits and lifestyle factors that increase the risk of breast cancer that everyone should know.
Unfortunately, there are some factors we can just not change like gender, aging, genetics, race, and ethnicity but there are some lifestyle related habits we can control.
Women with no children and those who had their first child after 30 are subject to a higher risk of breast cancer. Conversely, having multiple pregnancies and becoming pregnant at a young age can reduce the risk of breast cancer by lowering the number of lifetime menstrual cycles.
The use of oral contraceptives increases the risk of breast cancer compared to women who have never used them. Studies suggest that the risk normalizes with time. Women who have not been on the pill for more than 10 years show no apparent increase in the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Certain types of birth control may increase the risk but talk to your doctor about your concerns.
Women who drink two to five drinks daily are 1 ½ times more likely to develop breast cancer. Studies have shown those who consume one drink a day have a very small increase in possibility and the more drinks you have the higher your risk. Alcohol is also a factor in developing other types of cancer so beware of the number of drinks you have at the bar.
Overweight women have an increased risk of breast cancer. They tend to have higher blood sugar levels and raise estrogen levels. This connection is widely studied and highly complex.
In recent years, studies suggest that smoking increases the risk of breast cancer. Researchers have been unable to prove how or why, but both mainstream and secondhand smoke in high concentrations causes breast cancer in rodents. This is possibly linked to the chemicals in tobacco.
There are several other factors that are controversial and have an unproven effect of the risks of developing breast cancer such as antiperspirants, bras, implants, and working the night shift.