In the United States, at least one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lives.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign that aims to raise awareness about the disease, support millions of breast cancer survivors, encourage women to get annual checkups, and more importantly, knowing the potential causes of the disease.
A study released by the American Cancer Society (ACS) has shown the impact of breast cancer on people and its mortality rate. Lead study author Carol DeSantis said, “Breast cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death for Black women in six states.”
The study noted that the mortality rate has been declining since 1989, which has further slowed down since 2011. DeSantis said, “It’s slowing slightly. It was surprising. This is the first time we’ve noted that happening.”
The author said the reason for the decline is unclear. However, she said it could be due to the benefits from getting screened, early detection, early treatment, and advanced technology.
What are the potential causes of breast cancer?
Well, the exact cause is unknown. However, there are several factors increasing the risk of developing breast cancer. The risk of developing the condition usually depends on certain factors, such as age, genes, lifestyle, and the environment.
The risk of developing breast cancer increase as the age progresses. More than 82 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women above 50, according to the ACS. The probability of a breast cancer diagnosis is high among women in their 70s and the probability of breast cancer death is highest among women in their 80s.
- Genetic Predisposition
Only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be caused by genetic predisposition, according to the ACS. Of all women who have the disease, only 10 percent of cases are caused by abnormal genes passed from parents to children – thanks to at-home genetic tests. Women who have “breast cancer genes” such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 are at risk of developing breast cancer.
White women are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than black, Chinese, Asian or mixed-race women. Icelandic women and Ashkenazi Jews are at higher risk of carrying breast cancer genes. However, according to the ACS, the disparity has been widening over the past 30 years. The breast cancer death rate was higher in black women than in white women from 2013 to 2017.
- Lifestyle and Environment
Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, smoking, excessive use of oral contraceptive pills, radiotherapy, stress, and hormone replacement therapy have been found to be some of the potential causes of breast cancer, which is why experts advise women to lead a healthy lifestyle. The bottom line is the exact cause of breast cancer is unknown. Therefore, it is unclear whether the disease can be prevented completely. However, there have been benefits for women who lead a healthy lifestyle, eat healthily, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol intake. Also, it is important for middle-aged women to get screened every year.