Cancer of the breast is a difficult and frequently perplexing illness. It is not well understood what triggers normal cells to proliferate and expand uncontrollably. ¹
Breast cancer risk can be increased by a variety of variables, including hormones, genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors, according to research.
However, it is also true that people who have a low risk or no risk factors at all can still have breast cancer, whereas people who have a high risk or numerous risk factors can never develop breast cancer.
Now that that's out of the way, let's take a look at what we know about what causes breast cancer, as well as the risk factors that may raise the probability of having the disease.
Where does breast cancer come from?
Simply put, breast cancer develops when cells in the breast proliferate in an improper manner. Researchers ascribe these cell alterations to a complex interaction of genetic and environmental variables; yet, the origin of breast cancer in a particular patient may remain unclear.
As abnormal cells divide and reproduce, they can form a mass or lump in the affected area of the body, and they also have the potential to move to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes.
The majority of breast cancers in both women and men begin in the ducts that are responsible for milk production; this type of cancer is known as invasive ductal carcinoma. This type of breast cancer is known as invasive lobular carcinoma and it begins in the glandular tissue called lobules. Different types of breast cancer begin in other types of breast tissue cells.
In this context, it is also essential to discuss genetic mutations. It is estimated by researchers that anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent of all breast cancers are caused by hereditary gene mutations, which are changes in DNA that are handed down from generation to generation.
And while there are a number of inherited gene variants that can raise the risk of breast cancer, the BRCA1 and BRCA2.5 abnormalities are the ones that get the most attention.
Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 are referred to as tumour suppressor genes because of their ability to prevent improper growth of breast cells and prevent the development of breast cancer.
The danger of developing breast cancer, as well as ovarian cancer, is increased when certain genes are mutated and do not operate as intended, putting a person at a higher risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in every 500 women has a mutation in either her BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
Talk to your primary care physician about getting genetic testing done if you are interested in determining your own personal inherited risk for breast and other cancers.
Potential Causes of Breast Cancer
It is significantly more likely that a woman will develop breast cancer than a man will. Within a woman's lifetime, there is a one-in-eight risk that she may be diagnosed with this particular kind of cancer at some point. In comparison, the likelihood of a male American born today being diagnosed with breast cancer at any point in his lifetime is around one in eight hundred.
It is not fully understood what variables put men at risk for developing breast cancer. Researchers have found a few genetic and environmental variables that may have a role; nonetheless, the majority of men do not have any recognised risk factors other than becoming older. On average, a male breast cancer diagnosis is made at the age of 71.
There is a lot more information available on the variables that put women at risk. Having said that, just because a woman doesn't have any risk factors doesn't imply she'll never have breast cancer, and vice versa: just because she doesn't have any risk factors doesn't indicate that she'll never get breast cancer.
In women, the development of breast cancer is linked to a number of variables, including the ones listed below.
Because a woman's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer increases with age, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women of average risk begin getting annual mammograms at the age of 40 and continue doing so until they reach 70.
There is an extremely high correlation between gender and the likelihood of having breast cancer.
Personal history and that of one's family
Having a family history of breast cancer, namely lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells located in the milk-making glands of the breast) or atypical hyperplasia (changes in breast cells that are not malignant), raises the chance of developing breast cancer.
There is a correlation between a family history of breast cancer and an increased risk of having breast cancer in both breasts. Further increasing your likelihood of developing breast cancer is a family history of the disease.
Alcoholic beverages consumed
The higher a woman's overall alcohol consumption, the greater her chance of acquiring breast cancer.
Increased breast cancer risk is associated with receiving any type of radiation treatment to the chest region during childhood or early adulthood.
The onset of menstruation age
If you began having periods before the age of 12, your chance of developing breast cancer is increased.
If you reach menopause after the age of 55, your chance of developing breast cancer is increased.
At the time of pregnancy
After the age of 30, giving birth to a child increases the likelihood of complications.
Breast cancer is more likely to occur in women who have never been pregnant as opposed to those who have had one or more pregnancies in their lives.
Therapy with hormones
Hormone treatment for menopause, and more especially any form that includes oestrogen and progesterone, has been linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of breast cancer.
There is a correlation between a greater body mass index (an indicator of body fat) and an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. According to recent findings, a higher risk of developing breast cancer may be associated with the presence of excess fat cells, which produce oestrogen. ¹⁰
Cancer of the breast results from the mutation and multiplication of cells. It is not always possible to study and determine what causes those shifts to occur. According to the findings of several studies, this may be due to a combination of hormonal, environmental, genetic, and lifestyle variables.
There has been a wealth of study conducted on the subject of what may cause breast cells to grow out of control due to the fact that the risk of developing breast cancer in women is significantly higher than in males. Women who are aware of the variables that increase their likelihood of developing breast cancer may find it easier to have a discussion with their healthcare providers regarding preventative measures, such as breast cancer screening.