Prevention, Genetics, and Causes
Risk factors for breast cancer include older age, certain inherited genetic alterations, hormone therapy, having radiation therapy to the chest, drinking alcohol, and being obese. It may be possible to decrease the risk of breast cancer by getting exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. More information is available through the links on this page.
On this page:
- Breast Cancer Prevention (PDQ®)
[ patient ] [ health professional ]
Expert-reviewed information summary about factors that may increase the risk of developing breast cancer and about research aimed at the prevention of this disease.
- The Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR): Questions and Answers
STAR is a clinical trial designed to see how the drug raloxifene compares with the drug tamoxifen in reducing the incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
- Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
A fact sheet that describes hormone therapy (including antiestrogens, LH-RH agonists, aromatase inhibitors, and SERMs) and its role in preventing and treating breast cancer. Includes information about possible side effects.
- Surgery to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer
A fact sheet that describes mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy, two prophylactic surgeries that may be performed to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women at very high risk; the situations in which they may be considered; and nonsurgical options.
- Find Clinical Trials to Prevent Breast Cancer
Check for breast cancer prevention trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials now accepting patients. The list of clinical trials can be refined by location and other features.
- Study Reveals Genomic Similarities Between Breast and Ovarian Cancers
One subtype of breast cancer shares many genetic features with high-grade serous ovarian cancer according to findings published in the online September 23, 2012, issue of the journal Nature.
- Exemestane Reduces Breast Cancer Risk in High-Risk Postmenopausal Women
Clinical trial results presented at the 2011 ASCO annual meeting showed that the aromatase inhibitor exemestane (Aromasin®)—commonly used to treat early and advanced-stage breast cancer—substantially reduced the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women at high risk of developing the disease.
- Five Years of Tamoxifen Continues to Benefit Women 15 Years after Treatment
In a large randomized clinical trial, women with early-stage breast cancer who received 5 years of adjuvant treatment with tamoxifen had better outcomes up to 15 years after the start of treatment than those who received 2 years of tamoxifen therapy.
- Menopausal Estrogen Therapy Benefits and Risks Vary by Age, WHI Analysis Suggests
Long-term follow-up data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) provide important new information about the potential risks and benefits of hormone therapy to treat symptoms or conditions related to menopause, including its effect on breast cancer risk, according to results published April 5, 2011, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
- Starting Hormone Therapy at Menopause Increases Breast Cancer Risk
According to a January 28, 2011 article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, women who start taking menopausal hormone therapy around the time of menopause have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who begin taking hormones a few years later.
- For Women with BRCA Mutations, Prophylactic Surgery Reduces Cancer Risk
Prophylactic surgery to remove the breasts and ovaries is an effective way to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer among women with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, according to one of the largest prospective studies on the subject to date.
- Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool
An interactive tool to help estimate a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
- Breast Cancer Risk in American Women
A fact sheet that provides statistics about a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer and information about breast cancer risk factors.
- Alcohol and Cancer Risk
A fact sheet that summarizes the evidence linking alcohol consumption to the risk of various cancers. Includes information about factors that affect the risk of alcohol-associated cancers, such as a person’s genes and tobacco use.
- Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer
A fact sheet about the results of research on menopausal hormone therapy. Includes information about the effect of menopausal hormone therapy on the body. Also outlines the benefits and risks of using menopausal hormones.
- Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk
A fact sheet about research on the association of oral contraceptive use with risk of various cancers.
- Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk
A fact sheet that discusses research on abortion, miscarriage, and a woman's chances of developing breast cancer later in life.
- Reproductive History and Breast Cancer Risk
A fact sheet that describes what is known about the relationship between pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, and the risk of breast cancer. It also briefly describes what is known about reproductive history and the risk of other cancer types.
- Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer
Information about an NCI Workshop convened February 24-26, 2003, to provide an integrated scientific assessment of the association between reproductive events and the risk of breast cancer.
- Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer
A fact sheet describing studies on whether there is a link between underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and breast cancer.
- Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer (PDQ®)
[ health professional ]
Expert-reviewed information summary about the genetics of breast and ovarian cancer, including information about specific genes and family cancer syndromes. The summary also contains information about interventions that may influence the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer in individuals who may be genetically susceptible to these diseases. Psychosocial issues associated with genetic testing are also discussed.
- BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing
A fact sheet about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, how BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations (changes) affect a person's risk of cancer, genetic testing for cancer risk, interpreting test results, and the benefits and risks of genetic testing.
- Cancer Genetics Services Directory
Directory of professionals who provide services related to cancer genetic risk assessment, counseling, and testing.
- U.S. Task Force Recommendations for Chemoprevention of Breast Cancer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued two recommendations concerning the use of prescription medicines such as tamoxifen in the prevention of breast cancer.
- NIHSeniorHealth: Breast Cancer
NIHSeniorHealth is a Web site that features authoritative and up-to-date health information in a format tailored to older adults.