Last updated on February 27th, 2019,

Causes, Risk Factors And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the United States. Most people believe that it affects women only, but it can occur in men as well! However, it is far more common in women. There are 7 different types of breast cancer, but most of them have the same symptoms. Doctors still don’t know what causes breast cancer specifically, but there are few things that make certain women more likely to develop this form of cancer.

Breast cancer causes

The first thing you will have to understand is a clear difference between the cause of breast cancer and the risk factors that can increase the odds of a woman developing one. Causes are basically the same as with all other types of cancer, with one major difference. Breast cells start to divide and grow without control, which means they will start creating masses in the breasts. Once this occurs, breast cancer starts developing.

There are a few reasons why breast cells may start to grow and divide more often than they should. The main cause is a gene which is usually inherited and common in the family. They are BRCA 1 (breast cancer gene 1) and BRCA 2 (breast cancer gene 2). These genes are the most common causes of breast cancer and they can’t be avoided or eliminated.

Having these two genes doesn’t mean you will develop breast cancer at some point in your life. On the other side, doctors don’t know why some women who don’t have these two genes develop breast cancer.

Risk cancers commonly linked with breast cancer

In order to understand what is the cause of breast cancer, we must explain and define risk factors. They are simple factors or elements of your life that increase the odds of developing this type of cancer. The most obvious risk factors are being a woman, cancer history of a woman or in the family and your age. Older women are more likely to get breast cancer.

Obviously, none of these risk factors can be eliminated from your life. Once again, having all of them doesn’t mean you will suffer from breast cancer! It also means that if you don’t have any of the factors you can still suffer from this type of cancer. But there are additional risk factors that can be avoided or controlled. They are:

  • Exposure to radiation

Exposure to the radiation, when you were a child increases the risk of breast cancer. The radiation that was directed at the breast or chest area is the most severe risk factor.

  • Obesity

People who suffer from obesity are more likely to develop breast cancer at some point in their life. We also know that those individuals are at a higher risk of developing other types of cancer and diabetes.

  • Early period beginning

Women who started with their periods at age 12 or sooner are at a higher risk of breast cancer. Scientists still don’t know how and why this factor is linked to breast cancer.

  • Menopause at an older age

Women who begin with their menopause at an older age also suffer a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Having a child after age 30

One of the reasons for breast cancer is having a child after age 30. We can see that more and more women decide to have a baby at age 30 or later meaning that the number of women suffering from breast cancer increases correspondingly.

  • Never being pregnant

All of the women who were never pregnant are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women who had one or more pregnancies are at a much lower risk.

  • Hormone therapy for the postmenstrual condition

Women who are under a therapy for postmenstrual conditions, which involves estrogen and progestogen are at a higher risk. We must add that the risk decreases once they stop with the therapy.

  • Alcohol

One answer to the how do people get the breast cancer question can be answered as alcohol consumption. All alcoholic beverages increase the risk.

Symptoms of breast cancer

As we have mentioned at the beginning, there are 7 types of breast cancer, but almost all of them have the same symptoms. The first one is a lump inside a breast. This is the most obvious symptom and you should schedule a visit to your doctor immediately.

Changes in the size and shape of the breast are common symptoms as well. Peeling or changes in the color of the breast or a specific part should be taken into account as well. Skin on the breast that looks like an orange skin is a symptom as well. The last but not least important symptom is the changes in the skin surrounding a nipple. Now you know what can cause breast cancer and how you can detect it in an early stage.


How do women get breast cancer? We gave you all the answers and also included the risk factors and the symptoms common for this type of cancer. Keep in mind that visiting a doctor as soon as you have one symptom is mandatory.

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