Breast Cancer Basics: Risks for the Disease

As you’ve probably gathered from the proliferation of pink ribbons and the word spread on social media, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It’s a great time to learn the basics on breast cancer, which includes knowing the risk factors for the disease.

We’re sharing what women should know to potentially reduce their likelihood of developing breast cancer.

Know Your Breast Cancer Risks

While there are certain risk factors that women cannot control when it comes to their likelihood of developing breast cancer — including gender, age, genetics, race and ethnicity, density of breast tissue, onset of menstruation, and family history — there are some factors that can be monitored.

These include the following:

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, with risk increasing as alcohol consumption increases. When compared to non-drinkers, women that consume 1 alcoholic drink daily have a limited increase in risk. Women consuming 2-5 drinks per day have 1.5 times more risk than those who don’t drink. Women who consume alcohol excessively also heighten their risk for other types of cancer.


Women who are overweight or obese after menopause also have an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer. Before menopause, most of the body’s estrogen is produced in the ovaries, with the body’s fat tissue responsible for producing only a small amount. Once the ovaries stop producing estrogen, fat tissue is the primary estrogen producer. Excessive fat leads to excessive estrogen levels and thus increased cancer risk.

Being overweight also leads to higher blood sugars, which are also linked to increased cancer risk.

Physical Activity

Exercising more can reduce breast cancer risk. The jury’s still out on how much exercise is needed to effectively lower chances of developing the condition. One study found that just 1.25 – 2.5 hours of brisk walking each week could lower breast cancer risk by 18%; 10 hours per week reduced risk a bit more.

Lowering Breast Cancer Risk

To learn more information about breast cancer risk factors and to learn how monitoring your health might help, contact your nearest Test Smartly Labs today. We provide cancer screening, cholesterol testing, blood sugar testing, and more.

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