A risk factor is any factor that is associated with an increased chance of developing a particular health condition, such as breast cancer. There are different types of risk factors, some of which can be modified and some which cannot.
It should be noted that having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop breast cancer. Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop breast cancer, while others with breast cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with breast cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.
While the causes of breast cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. Some of the risk factors for breast cancer include:
- being a woman
- increasing age
- having a strong family history of breast cancer.
- having a breast condition such as a personal history of breast cancer, DCIS or LCIS
- a number of hormonal factors, child-bearing history, personal and lifestyle factors
- Family history
- Factors relating to the breast
- Hormones and menstrual history
- Lifestyle and health
- Protective factors which can help guard against risk
- Unproven risk factors