“Many potential risk factors associated with breast cancer have to do with a patient’s lifestyle,” explains Dr. Lauren Carcas, Medical Oncologist with Miami Cancer Institute. In an interview with the Health Channel, Dr. Carcas outlines what these potential risks are and what to watch out for.
Weight is the first risk factor that Dr. Carcas discusses. Being overweight makes you more likely to have breast cancer. “We know that in post-menopausal women, if you are obese, you have a two times greater risk of developing breast cancer,” Dr. Carcas elaborates. Obesity increases your likelihood of developing breast cancer because fat cells produce estrogen which drives breast cancer. So, the more fat, or adipose tissue, you have the more estrogen your body stores, which puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer.
Exposure to radiation is also a major risk factor for breast cancer. Specifically, if you have had lymphoma or some type of chest tumor earlier in life for which you needed radiation treatment in the chest, that could increase your risk for breast cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy has also been shown to be linked to breast cancer. Dr. Carcas talks about a study that was done to observe how hormone replacement therapy affected postmenopausal women. “While we know it reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, it did increase the risk of breast cancer,” Dr. Carcas says. She says that it is certainly important to take that into consideration when taking those medications. You should be having regular breast screenings and be aware of the risk.
Finally, smoking and alcohol consumption can be a risk factor for breast cancer. Dr. Carcas jokes that, “smoking is a risk factor for almost everything, but alcohol is probably not talked about as much as it ought to be.” People who drink one drink a day, so about 10 grams per day, have a seven to ten percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. People who drink two to three drinks a day have a 20 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer.
To watch the full segment of Dr. Lauren Carcas describing potential risk factors for breast cancer associated with lifestyle, visit the Health Channel’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/c/AllHealthGo