UAE: 9 common breast cancer risk factors every woman should know about

Survival rates have increased dramatically, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining

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Published: Tue 18 Oct 2022, 7:17 AM

Last updated: Tue 18 Oct 2022, 8:21 PM

Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women, and while there are some risk factors like being born a woman or ageing that we have no control over, there are several others we can safeguard ourselves from.

Pink Caravan, a breast cancer awareness and early detection initiative of the civil society organisation, Friends Of Cancer Patients (FOCP), has ramped up advocacy efforts in observance of the International Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), turning the spotlight on both types of risk factors and reiterating the benefits of early screening.


Risk factors that cannot be changed

– Getting older. The risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.

– history of breast or ovarian cancer. A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast or ovarian cancer. Having a first-degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk.


– Previous treatment using radiation therapy. Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.

– Reproductive history. Starting menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55 expose women to hormones longer, raising their risk of getting breast cancer.

Risk factors that can be changed

– Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

– Being overweight or having obesity after menopause. Older women who are overweight or have obesity have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a healthy weight.

– Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those that include both oestrogen and progesterone) taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.

– Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 35, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.

– Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.

While sharing these risk factors, Pink Caravan has also clarified that having a risk factor does not mean one will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors and must be very attentive towards keeping at bay those risk factors that can be avoided and / or changed.

Breast cancer survival rates have increased dramatically, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new personalised approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease.

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