Do You Know Your Breast Cancer Health Risk? What You Can and Can’t Control

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Henry Ford Cancer Institute. All opinions are 100% mine.

During our daily lives, we often takes steps to reduce our risks to injury or harmful outcomes. For example, we wear seatbelts in the car, helmets when cycling, brush and floss daily, use sunscreen and so much more. While we can’t control everything, taking steps to reduce our risks and steps towards prevention are so important for our overall health and wellness. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to highlight some of the risk factors for breast cancer. Breast cancer is a disease that affects 1 in 8 women – or 12-13 percent of the female population which can be a bit unsettling. I’ve had friends and family that have battled breast cancer and I feel that as I get older, that I’m surrounded by more people who have been personally effected by breast cancer in some way.

While you can’t completely prevent breast cancer, there are certain risk factors and prevention steps that you can take that may reduce your risk of breast cancer. As a woman, it’s so important to be pro-active with your health through annual screenings and to educate yourself on risk factors to breast cancer so that you can can be aware of what you can (and can’t) do to reduce your breast cancer risks. While some factors, like your age and genetics, can’t be changed, there are many other factors that may lower your risk of breast cancer. Knowledge is power and can be potentially life-saving.

While I’ll be sharing more about risk factors below, I wanted to share the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment provided by Henry Ford Cancer Institute. The Henry Ford Cancer Institute has one of the nation’s leading breast cancer programs, featuring specially trained breast radiologists who read all mammograms and imaging results, and the most advanced technologies available to detect and diagnose breast cancer.

BREAST CANCER HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT

The free online Breast Cancer Risk Assessment asks questions about your current health and fitness, and your family health history. The assessment will immediately generate a personalized report that you can download and share with your doctor. The assessment analyzes your medical history, age, ethnic group, history of giving birth, and history of breast cancer in your mother, sisters, and daughters to determine the 5-year and lifetime risks of developing invasive breast cancer.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised at my results. It’s definitely given me some things to think about regarding my health and risks and the extra motivation to be more proactive with my health. To take the test for yourself, click here for more information and to take the breast cancer health risk assessment.

BELOW ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT RISK FACTORS THAT EFFECT BREAST CANCER:

Lifestyle Risk Factors – What You Can Control:

Obesity

Maintaining a healthy weight is so important for reducing breast cancer risks. After menopause, being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk (it’s believed that higher estrogen levels in fat may cause an increased risk). It’s so important to maintain weight through healthy diet and exercise for improved wellness and lessened risk of breast cancer.

Smoking

While it’s not clear if smoking is a risk factor for breast cancer, current smokers have a 16% higher risk of breast cancer. Regardless, smoking has many detrimental health effects and it’s better to steer clear of smoking and second-hand smoke for optimal health.

Alcohol Consumption

Consuming one alcoholic drink per day increases your chances of getting breast cancer by at least five percent, according to the American Cancer Institute for Cancer Research. Two to three drinks per day raises your risk by 20 percent. Minimize your risk by reducing your alcohol intake.

Exercise

Exercise has a multitude of positive health effects and helps to stabilize weight. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity every week, ideally spread throughout the week. Grab a friend and hit up your local yoga class (great for stress management too), ride bikes with your kids, or squeeze in a walk during your lunch break.

Breastfeeding

Many studies have shown that women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer. Even just a few months of nursing, has shown to have positive effects on reducing breast cancer risk.

Hormone Use After Menopause

Although many women like to use Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to ease post-menopausal symptoms, research has shown that HRT use can increase breast cancer risk.

Genetic Risk Factors – What You Can’t Control:

Cancer In Family

Gene changes can run in families and increase breast cancer risks. A history of breast cancer on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family may increase a woman’s breast cancer risk, especially when breast cancer happens before age 40.

Age

The older a person is, the more likely they are to get breast cancer.

Genetic Mutation

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the best known genes linked to breast cancer risk. In the U.S., five to 10 percent of breast cancers are related to an inherited gene mutation.

Race/Ethnicity

Risk factors can vary depending on race and ethnicity. Traditionally, white Americans are more likely to get breast cancer.

Breast Density

Having dense breast tissue can make it harder for mammograms to detect the disease. In those cases, there are other diagnostic tools (like 3D mammograms) that can be used to help detect early signs of breast cancer.


No matter your results of the Breast Cancer Health Risk Assessment, prevention and self-advocacy are key. Maintaining your health through lifestyle habits and getting your annual mammogram is crucial! The Henry Ford Cancer Institute offers mammography locations throughout Southeast and South Central Michigan, with convenient day, evening and weekend hours.

Did you take the breast cancer risk assessment? Did your results surprise you?

To stay up to date on the latest health and wellness information, follow Henry Ford on Facebook and Instagram.

I am not a medical professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

For additional resources, please review the links below:

Henry Ford Mammography and Breast Screening

When to Get a Mammogram

How to Prepare Mentally & Physically for a Mammogram

Understanding Your Breast Cancer Risk & What You Can Do About It

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By |2019-11-15T12:22:49-05:00October 27th, 2019|health|5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Angella October 28, 2019 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    As a cancer nurse of over 10 years, it is always great to see more and more awareness being spread to educate the public. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Nicole Pyles October 28, 2019 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    While it’s scary to think about, it’s also extremely important. And I am so glad you are sharing this awareness!

  3. Paula @ I'm Busy Being Awesome October 28, 2019 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Thank you for spreading awareness, so many factors go into breast cancer, it’s important to be carefull

  4. Marisa October 29, 2019 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    This is such important information to share… I definitely make sure that I go for regular check ups! Sharing this info with my loved ones now!

  5. Angela October 29, 2019 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    This is a very informative post about breast cancer! Awareness and prevention are so important!

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