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Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, accounting for 30% (or 1 in 3) of all new female cancers yearly. Overall, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer during her lifetime is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer but a 7 in 8 chance that she will never have the disease.

Understanding breast cancer risks is one of the best ways to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer. Here are some of the most common known breast cancer risks as of 2022.

Alcohol intake is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer

An alcoholic drink is considered:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor.

More than one alcoholic drink per day increases your risk of developing breast cancer. 

  • Alcohol can cause unwanted weight gain, which increases breast cancer risk
  • Alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer

While you don’t need to avoid alcohol altogether, cutting back on how much you consume can lower your breast cancer risk. 

Being overweight after menopause increases breast cancer risk

For women, being overweight after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer.
Before menopause, a woman's ovaries produce most estrogen, while fat tissue makes up a small part of the total. After menopause, when the ovaries stop making estrogen, most estrogen comes from fat tissue. More fat tissue after menopause can raise estrogen and insulin levels, increasing breast cancer risk.

However, the connection between weight and breast cancer risk is complicated. For example, studies suggest increased risk for women who gained weight as adults but not among those who have been overweight since childhood. And, having extra fat in the waist may raise the cancer risk more than in the hips and thighs.

Physical inactivity can increase your risk of breast cancer

While the evidence is growing that regular physical activity reduces breast cancer risk, especially in women past menopause, the question is: how much movement is needed?

Physical activity might reduce breast cancer risk and is associated with its effects on the following:

  • Body weight
  • Inflammation
  • Hormone levels

The American Cancer Society recommends moderate intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes, of vigorous-intensity activity each week. Getting to or going over 300 minutes is ideal, preferably spread throughout the week, but any amount of physical activity is better than none!

How can you lower your risk of developing breast cancer?

  • Healthy weight
  • Physically activity
  • Avoid or limit alcohol to no more than one alcoholic drink per day

About Dr. Kevin Kearney, M.D./M.B.A., Owner and Founder Of Telemammography USA

For almost two decades, Dr. Kearney has been a practicing board-certified Radiologist specializing in breast imaging. He previously served as the Breast Imaging Director for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Arizona. As a National Director for a large national imaging facility in Phoenix, he helped the Breast Imaging department, working on expanding their new multi-state telemammography program.

Dr. Kearney completed his Radiology Residency at the prestigious Henry Ford Hospital. Fellowship training at Oregon Health and Sciences University from 2007-2008. He currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Creighton University School of Medicine.

Dr. Kearney founded TeleMammography USA to respond to the delayed report turnarounds, workflow issues, and inspection concerns that keep many breast imaging facilities from operating at a higher efficiency level and thus from saving more lives. He provides accountability and accessibility so surgeons and practitioners can better fulfill their core missions.

Dr. Kearney is licensed throughout the United States and is an MQSA-qualified specialist who consistently completes CME breast imaging courses to stay current on the latest, most advanced research in the industry. His unwavering commitment to patient health and passion for revolutionizing the field of teleradiology is providing a dramatic paradigm shift that elevates the quality of life for women everywhere.

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