Cancer (Oncology)

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Risk factors are traits that put people at greater risk of developing breast cancer.


Women are more likely to develop breast cancer as they age, with menopausal women most at risk. Eight out of 10 breast cancers occur in women over age 50.

Family History & Genetics
About 10 percent of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease. Women who believe they are at risk would benefit from speaking with a genetics counselor.

White women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer, but African-American women are more likely to die from the disease. Asian, Hispanic and American Indian women have a lower risk.

Childbearing History
Women who have never had children or had their first child after age 30 are at greater risk. Women who had several children and breastfed their infants are less at risk.

Breast Biopsy

Atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma-in-situ are important risk factors that can be diagnosed via a breast biopsy.

Hormone Replacement Therapy
Some studies show women who use long-term hormone replacement therapy after menopause may increase their risk for breast cancer and other diseases.

Studies show excessive alcohol use increases the risk of developing breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver. The American Cancer Society recommends women limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day.

Being overweight or obese
Being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risks, especially for women after menopause.

Physical activity
Research shows exercise reduces breast cancer risk.

Learn more about risk factors for breast cancer:
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  • General Questions: 203-863-3711

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  • Monday to Friday 8am-8:40pm 
  • Saturday 8am-11:40am
  • Women can schedule a screening mammogram during any of these hours.
  • Diagnostic mammograms are only available Monday to Friday.
  • Patients are referred to the Breast Center by their gynecologist or primary care physicians.