Breast cancer: causes and risk factors
As with many other cancers, the cause of breast cancer is unknown. However, a number of risk factors are known to favor breast cancer:
- Risk factor female gender
- About 99 percent of all breast cancer patients are female. Men rarely develop breast cancer.
- Risk factor age
- According to statistics, the risk of breast cancer varies at different ages:
- 35 years: One in every 110 women suffers from breast cancer within the next ten years.
- 45 years: One in 47 women falls ill within the next ten years.
- 55 years: One in 31 women will receive the diagnosis within the next ten years.
- 65 years: highest breast cancer risk. Within the next ten years, one in 27 women will fall ill.
- At older age, the risk of breast cancer decreases again slightly.
Risk factor hormones
Breast cancer usually grows hormone dependent . Various hormonal factors therefore influence the risk of breast cancer:
The longer a woman is exposed to the cyclical fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels each month, the higher the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, women who have had their first menstruation (<11 years) at a very early age and entered menopause (> 54 years) very late are particularly at risk .
Also childlessness increases the breast cancer risk. In contrast, the more children a woman has delivered and the longer she breastfeeds, the more it sinks.
A late first pregnancy is another risk factor: If women do not have their first child until the age of 30, the risk of breast cancer is slightly higher than in women who become mothers for the first time in their younger years.
The importance of hormones for the development of tumors is also evident in the intake of artificial hormones : Thus, the ” pill ” may increase the risk of breast cancer slightly. Particularly affected are women who take the pill for at least four years before having a baby, and women who use the pill for several years before the age of 20.
The risk of developing breast cancer increases when taking hormone replacement supplements for menopausal symptoms . This is especially true if these preparations are taken for more than five years and contain both estrogens and progestins.
Caution is also required with plant hormones (such as phytoestrogens). They are offered as herbal supplements and dietary supplements for menopausal symptoms and can also promote the development of breast cancer.
Risk factors overweight and lack of exercise
Obesity is another important risk factor for breast cancer. This also has to do with hormones: in the fatty tissue hormones are produced, which raise the estrogen levels. The female sex hormone stimulates the mammary glands to cell division. If mistakes occur, cancer can develop. Especially after the menopause, obesity seems to increase the risk of breast cancer – especially the risk of estrogen-dependent tumors.
Physical inactivity also has a negative effect on breast cancer risk.