While recent years have seen advancement in breast cancer treatment and management, much remains regarding its causes. And unraveling this mystery starts with knowing what might put one in danger of the sickness. Issues like lifestyle, environmental factors, and gender play a vital role. As such, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all motivation for cancer. However, women are more at risk; their body exposes them to certain unique biological and physiological factors, making the disease more common in females. Join us as we explore breast cancer’s risk factors in women to empower you to achieve proactive prevention.

Why Does Being Female Rank as a Breast Cancer Risk Factor?

Women’s bodies possess the female sex hormones—estrogen and progesterone. Besides their function in reproduction and development, they’re also growth hormones. And because cancer arises predominantly from abnormal cell growth, women’s breasts’ constant exposure to the growth-promoting hormone puts them at risk. The hormone’s ability to stimulate tissue regeneration catalyzes cancer growth. This factor, together with the various female biological and physiological characteristics, forms a cancer-friendly combo. Let’s dive into the aspects.

The Female Breast Composition

The female breast’s physical makeup plays a role in breast cancer risk escalation. It contains lobes and ducts for its primary function of breastfeeding. These glands, within which milk travels during lactation, are prone to gene mutations. As such, the female breast is more likely to develop cancerous cells the longer they are exposed to hormonal fluctuations.

Increased Exposure to the Growth Hormone

While the growth hormone alone doesn’t increase one’s likelihood of getting cancer, its prolonged exposure can be detrimental. The longer one’s body interacts with the growth hormone, the more likely it is to trigger underlying factors for breast cancer. Here’s a background of what entails extended exposure:

  • Advancing Age: As you age, the body loses its self-repairing capability, increasing the chances of succumbing to genetic damage. Additionally, more years means prolonged exposure to mutations.
  • Early Menarche: When periods occur earlier than expected, they expose the person to hormones longer than usual, increasing their chances of encountering abnormal cell growth, hence cancer.
  • Late Menopause: This occurrence also exposes one to hormones for longer, escalating their risk of cancer.
  • Prolonged interval between menarche and 1st pregnancy: This factor exposes the body to cancer-friendly hormones longer as their production stops at first pregnancy.

Other Female-specific Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Besides prolonged exposure to estrogen and progesterone, several other factors increase women’s risk of breast cancer. Top examples include the following:

  • Nulliparity: Never giving birth increases a woman’s risk for cancer as it denies them the protective characteristic of pregnancy hormones, which may protect her against cancer. Pregnancy also helps one shed cancerous cells, reducing their risk.
  • Menopause hormone therapy with estrogen and progestin may increase breast density, making it challenging to detect cancer early.
  • Not Breastfeeding: Lactating helps shed breast tissue, reducing the risk of breast cancer by removing potentially defective cells.
  • Breast Density: Dense breasts increase one’s chances of breast cancer because they contain more fibrous and glandular tissue. Suc breasts are at a higher risk of mutations than those rich in fatty tissue.

General Breast Cancer Risk Factors

It is crucial to know that one may encounter other circumstances outside their gender that can also increase the risk of breast cancer. Aspects such as inherited genes and lifestyle choices can come into play. Here are the catalysts you should look out for:

  • High-dose Chest Radiation: These emissions are carcinogenic (capable of causing cancer). Hence, prolonged or increased exposure increases one’s chances of breast cancer.
  • Family history of breast cancer or associated cancer like ovarian, pancreatic, or prostate cancer is a risk as one can inherit the genes.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Known gene mutation can cause abnormal cell growth, increasing one’s risk of cancerous cells.


To wrap up, while being female increases breast cancer risk, you can employ various strategies to stay vigilant and proactively manage or prevent the disease. Achieving this goal starts with going for frequent health checks. Please book an appointment with us today to schedule your clinical breast exam; our caring practitioners will also advise you on navigating the risk factors for a cancer-free life.