Have you heard of hereditary risk or genetic predisposition? You might be surprised to learn that hereditary risk is one of the most over-estimated risk factors by women. Studies indicate that only 5-10% of cancers are linked to inherited genes, meaning that they result directly from gene mutations passed on from a parent.
Only 5%-10% of Breast Cancers are Due to Inherited Gene Mutations
While the risk of developing breast cancer is higher in women with an inherited gene mutation in the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene, the significance of this statistic is that potentially 90-95% of breast cancers are linked to other, more controllable risk factors.
Gene Testing Provides for Intervention and Prevention
When gene testing reveals mutations that increase an individual’s risk for disease or cancer, intervention may compensate. For instance, nearly 50% of women are expected to have an MTHFR gene mutation that can result in poor estrogen metabolism and increased risk for cancer. But when these women consume the nutraceuticals that support estrogen metabolism, then the risk may be offset.
Inherited Genetic Factors: Age, Ethnicity and Fat Distribution
While we have less control over inherited genetic factors, we can better understand them and how they contribute to our own risk for developing breast cancer.
Age and the Risk for Breast Cancer
From birth to age 40, the risk of developing breast cancer among white women is 1 in 100. But “cumulative” risk is defined as the lifetime risk of women who live to age 85, and this is 1 in 8 for white women. Statistically, breast cancer is more prevalent in women over age 50 than women under age 50, and risk increases with age.
For women with no genetic risk factors, their absolute risk may be closer to 1 in 100, or 1%. For women with risk factors, absolute risk increases, or multiplies. For instance, statistics indicate that women whose mothers were diagnosed with breast cancer may be at nearly two times the risk of women whose mothers were not diagnosed.
The older the mother when diagnosed, the lower the risk for the daughter. If only a woman’s aunt or grandmother was diagnosed, then risk may increase one and a half times. If a woman’s mother and a sister have been diagnosed, then her risk can increase up to five times.
While risk factors multiply our absolute risk, they are not additive. That is, we cannot simply add the multiplying effect of each risk factor to obtain a total. It’s more complicated than that. Each additional risk factor does increase our absolute risk, but in a compounded way rather than an additive way.
Ethnicity and the Risk for Breast Cancer
Risk is slightly less for African-American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific, and American Indian women. Men can get breast cancer too, but account for only about 1% of all cases. While Caucasian women are slightly more at risk for breast cancer, African-American and minority women are more likely to die of the disease, partly because of socioeconomic conditions.
Fat Distribution and the Risk for Breast Cancer
Some women over 5’6″ and 154lbs are up to 3.6 times the risk of women under 5’3″ and 132lbs. Body shape and fat distribution impact this.
Apple vs Pear Shapes and the Waist to Hip Ratio
You’ve probably heard about the apple versus pear shaped figure, and that cancer risk is higher when we are apple shaped. Our shape can also be measured by our waist-to- hip ratio. This ratio is determined by dividing the waist measurement by the hip measurement. If this ratio is greater than .81, risk may increase up to seven times.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Another way of learning if you are at risk by body shape and size is with the Body Mass Index, or BMI. To determine if your BMI correlates to a higher risk of adverse effects on health, determine your body height in feet and inches and your weight in pounds. Or, divide your body weight in kilograms by your height in meters, squared:
BMI = Body weight (kg) / Body height (m²)
BMI = (pounds / 2.2) / (inches*0.0254)²
For example, consider a 175 lb women who is 5 ft 7 in tall:
BMI = (175 / 2.2) / (67*0.0254)² = (79.55) / (2.89) = 28
Maintaining a BMI under 25 through adulthood supports breast health.
Obesity and the Risk for Breast Cancer
Some studies indicate that postmenopausal women 50lbs or more overweight can be 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer, especially if the majority of excess weight was added in adulthood. The fat cells in postmenopausal women are very efficient at converting certain hormones from our adrenal glands into estrogens, which may increase the risk of breast cancer. Learn more about Hormonal Factors.
by Tirza Derflinger
Founder, Author, Lead Educator, Speaker, CTT, MBA
Better Breast Health – For Life!™
Reduce Your Risk of Cancer Now
303-664-1139 ● thermogramcenter.com