As we age, our bodies are less capable of repairing genetic damage, which is why our breast cancer risk increases with age. Because age is a well-established risk factor for breast cancer, many younger women assume they’re off the hook when it comes to breast health and regular breast self-exams.
But that isn’t necessarily true. While breast cancer rates are indeed low for women under 40, there are other factors like race and family history that can play a huge role in when and if breast cancer is detected.
But don’t worry! While every woman is different, there are preventative measures you can take at any age to safeguard your breast health and identify any issues or breast cancer risks sooner rather than later.
While breast cancer isn’t common for women in their 20s, it is the most common cancer among US women. Therefore, you should be aware if you have any increased breast cancer risk factors:
- A member of your immediate family who was diagnosed before age 50
- Having the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Having received radiation treatment in the chest or breasts before age 30
Be sure speak with your doctor about any concerns you have. Finally, to reduce your risk of breast cancer, begin healthy habits now: limit alcohol, don’t smoke, and stay physically active.
Life can get a whole lot busier in your 30s, especially if you’re trying to find a balance between your career and family. That’s why it’s so important to continue healthy habits. Prioritize healthy eating, and exercise whenever you can. If you do have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about scheduling a baseline mammogram.
In 2015, the American Cancer Society increased the recommended screening age to 45 from 40 for women of average risk for breast cancer. Women can choose to begin breast cancer screenings with mammograms between the ages of 40-44. This option is especially important if you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. Your doctor can help you determine the right time for your first mammogram.
Your 40s is also the time when your risk of breast cancer significantly increases. Keeping up with those healthy diet and exercise habits (yes, even if you have a hectic career, family life, and more) can make a world of difference.
Your 50s are a crucial time to pay extra attention to both your breast health and your health in general: you now have a 1 in 38 chance of developing breast cancer in your 50s. Annual mammograms are essential during these years for early detection. Some studies have shown a link between post-menopausal weight gain and breast cancer. Exercising, watching your weight, and eating healthy should still be among your top priorities.
Half of newly diagnosed women are over 60, and one-fifth are over the age of 70. The good news? Even as the risk of breast cancer increases with age, the chances of dying from breast cancer steadily declines. This is due in part to advances in mammography and the effective breast cancer treatments that have been developed over the years. As always, early detection is everything. Talk to your doctor about your options for annual mammograms.
Breast health is important at any age
Whether you’re in your 20s or your 60s, breast health should be on your mind, no matter your age. Being aware of your personal risk factors, talking to your doctor about your breast health, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise are all super important for your overall health and wellness. To learn more about breast health, read What You Can Expect at Your First Mammogram.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. In support of women diagnosed and living with breast cancer, FemmePharma will donate $5 to Living Beyond Breast Cancer with every purchase of our intimate skin moisturizer throughout October when you use the code LBBC5 at checkout.