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Although there are some women who are at higher risk, the fact is all women are at risk for breast cancer. That's why it is so important to follow the three-step plan for breast health. Early detection of problems provides the greatest possibility of successful treatment.
Some people with one or more risk factors never develop a disease, such as cancer, while others develop cancer and have no known risk factors.
Although certain factors MAY suggest or define a person's possible risks, they do not necessarily cause the disease.
Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk-factor lists. When reading about risk factors for breast cancer, keep in mind that the word "risk" is used in different ways:
Lifetime risk refers to the probability that a person, over the course of his or her lifetime, will be diagnosed or die from cancer.
Over her lifetime, a woman in the United States has a 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer, and a 1 in 35 risk of dying from breast cancer.
Relative risk is a measure of the strength of the relationship between risk factors and cancer.
With respect to breast cancer, it compares the risk of developing breast cancer in women who have a certain trait or exposure to women who do not have the trait or exposure.
About 20 percent to 30 percent of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease
Source: National Cancer Institute
A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.
Knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.
Any woman may develop breast cancer. However, the following risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing the disease.
Risk factors that cannot be changed:
The most frequently cited lifestyle-related risk factors:
Environmental risk factors:
To learn more about women's health, and specifically hormone replacement therapy, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) in 1991. The hormone trial had two studies: the estrogen-plus-progestin (HRT) study of women with a uterus and the estrogen-alone (ERT) study of women without a uterus. Both studies were concluded early when the research showed that hormone replacement did not help prevent heart disease and it increased risk for some medical problems.
The WHI recommends that women follow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advice on hormone (estrogen-alone or estrogen-plus-progestin) therapy. It states that hormone therapy should not be taken to prevent heart disease.
These products are approved therapies for relief from moderate to severe hot flashes and symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy. Although hormone therapy is effective for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis, it should only be considered for women at significant risk of osteoporosis who cannot take non-estrogen medications. The FDA recommends that hormone therapy be used at the lowest doses for the shortest duration needed to achieve treatment goals.
Postmenopausal women who use or are considering using hormone therapy should discuss the possible benefits and risks to them with their physicians.
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