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You Might Have a Higher Risk of Breast Cancer Due to These 5 Factors

We hear about breast cancer all the time. It’s one of the most common forms of cancer for women in the U.S., per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is projected to be the fourth deadliest form of cancer in 2017, totaling an estimated 41,070 deaths by the end of the year. Besides being a woman (although men can be diagnosed with breast cancer as well), there are other factors that can heighten your chances of developing the disease. Curious as to whether you may be at risk? Here are five factors that increase your risk for breast cancer.

1. Family history

Woman holding a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon

Woman holding a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon Your family history can be a big risk factor. | iStock.com/And-One

Unfortunately, if someone in your family has breast cancer, you are more likely to develop it as well. According to Susan G. Komen, chances are double for women who have one first-degree female relative with the illness as compared to those without one, whether it be a sister, mother, or daughter. More than one and risk increases by three or four times. A woman is also more likely to be diagnosed if the family member developed the disease at a younger age.

However, it’s not just female — male relatives can also impact your chances. Having a close male relative like a brother, father, or uncle with breast cancer can make you more likely to inherit it, and so can having a father or brother with prostate cancer. At this time, there’s no clear understanding as to why this is, although it may have something to do with inherited gene mutations.

The organization mentions inheriting mutated genes that are linked to breast cancer, most commonly BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase risk. Although only 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are the result of inherited gene mutations, it may be helpful to consider getting tested if you have a family history of the condition.

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