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Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. One in eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime. About 5,335 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Los Angeles County in 2007. Of those, 1,080 will die.

Risk Factors
  • Gender - The biggest risk is being female. While men can also get breast cancer, it’s 100 times more common in women.
  • Age – Risk goes up as a woman gets older. Eight of 10 breast cancers are found in women over age 50.
  • Genetics - About 5 to 10 percent of cases are linked to mutations in certain genes. Women with these mutations have up to an 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer.
  • Family History - Risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have had breast cancer. Having a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer doubles risk.
  • Personal History - A woman with cancer in one breast has a greater chance of getting a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast.
  • Race - White women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer than are African American women, but African American women are more likely to die from it. Asian, Hispanic and Native American women have a lower risk.
Lifestyle Factors
A woman cannot change her risk factors, but simple lifestyle adjustments can help prevent breast cancer. Women should:
  • Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
  • Choose fats wisely – eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon and mackerel.
  • Eat at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
  • Do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to heavy cardiovascular exercise four to five days a week.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.

Screening: Breast cancer is most treatable when found early. Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to their doctor right away. Women over age 40 should have a mammogram every year. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a clinical breast exam every year.

Sources: American Cancer Society, California Cancer Registry

Last updated: 7/10/2008 10:49:44 AM