Breast CancerBreast Cancer Causes

Let's Talk About the Causes of Breast Cancer

We’ve all heard the statistic: One in eight women will get breast cancer at some point during her life. What we really want to know is whether there’s any way to predict if that one in eight will be... us.

    Our Pro PanelBreast Cancer Causes

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts in breast cancer to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    P. Hank Schmidt, M.D.

    P. Hank Schmidt, M.D.Breast Surgical Oncologist

    Mount Sinai
    New York, NY
    Jonathan Stegall, M.D.

    Jonathan Stegall, M.D.Medical Director

    The Center for Advanced Medicine
    Alpharetta, GA
    Zahi Mitri, M.D.

    Zahi Mitri, M.D.Breast Cancer Oncologist

    The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
    Portland, OR

    Frequently Asked QuestionsBreast Cancer Causes

    What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

    The two biggest risk factors for breast cancer are also things you can’t do anything about: Being a woman and getting older. In addition, having a BRCA 1 or 2 gene mutation greatly increases your risk, as well as a strong family history, going through puberty early, hitting menopause later, and using hormone replacement therapy.

    What are my chances of getting breast cancer?

    Every person's risk is different and depends on factors such as genetics, family history, lifestyle, and other issues. The average woman has a 12% chance of developing breast cancer at some point in her life. The median age of diagnosis is 62; only about 5% of women with breast cancer are diagnosed under age 40.

    What are the best ways to detect breast cancer?

    Get to know your breasts—how they feel and look, and how they change during your menstrual cycle. Symptoms include lumps, dimpled skin, and pain or swelling in one breast that doesn't come and go with menstrual cycles. Many breast cancers cause no obvious symptoms, however, which is why regular mammogram screenings are incredibly important.

    Can deodorant cause breast cancer?

    No, this is a myth. Many years ago, some scientists noted that deodorants are applied very close to the breast, often on freshly shaved skin, and wondered whether aluminum and other common ingredients could contribute to breast cancer. A few studies were done and no link was found, according to the National Institutes of Health.

    Sunny Sea Gold

    Sunny Sea Gold


    Sunny is a health journalist, book author, and essayist living in Portland, OR.