Your personal breast cancer risk report
Answer these questions and discover how your lifestyle can affect your breast cancer risks
How old are you?
Breast cancer is rare in women under 35. However, the earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of beating it – and it’s never too early to be breast aware. No one knows your body better than you. The important thing is to be familiar with your breasts so you notice anything unusual. There’s no special technique and you don’t need any training, just get into the habit of checking the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits. This can be done anywhere – in the bath or shower, while getting dressed, while standing up or lying down – it doesn’t matter. The key thing is that it is done regularly. For a video guide, visit www.breakthroughbreastcancer.org, or if you have an iPhone, download the free app at www.ibreastcheck.com
While most breast cancers occur in women aged 50 and over, the disease can still occur in this age group, so show your breasts some TLC: Touch your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual? Look for changes. Is there any difference in shape and texture? Check anything out of the ordinary with your doctor.
Your risk of breast cancer increases as you get older, with more than four out of five cases in women aged 50 and over. You should be offered free NHS breast screening once every three years – so take advantage of this potentially life-saving service.
You need to be more breast aware than ever. Just because you don’t receive automatic NHS breast screening appointments any more, it doesn’t mean you’re no longer at risk of developing the disease. You are still entitled to free screening on the NHS, so make sure you get an appointment through your GP, or contact your local breast screening unit.
How many units of alcohol do you drink in a typical day?
About two units a day (two units is equal to one standard 175ml glass of wine, or a pint of lager).
Regularly drinking any type of alcohol can increase your risk. For every 100 women who drink two units of alcohol a day, there will be two extra women who develop breast cancer, compared to 100 women who don’t drink at all.
More than two units a day
The more you drink, the higher your chances of developing breast cancer. For every 100 women who drink four units a day, there will be five extra women who develop breast cancer, compared to 100 women who don’t drink at all. I don’t drink alcohol Not drinking any type of alcohol means a lower risk of developing breast cancer, compared to women who drink.
Which best describes your level of physical activity in a typical week?
Being physically inactive can increase your breast cancer risk. This may be because you are not at a healthy weight. It may also have a detrimental effect on hormone levels.
Includes physical activity that slightly increases your heart rate for at least half an hour, five times a week, such as walking, housework, cycling at a casual pace, actively playing with children and gardening. By being physically active, you are taking a positive step towards reducing your breast cancer risk.
Includes exercise that substantially increases your heart rate, such as running/jogging, swimming and competitive sport. As someone who exercises regularly, you probably know it’s good for your heart. But your increased physical activity has other health benefits, including reducing your risk of breast cancer.
Do you use antiperspirants or deodorants?
There is no good evidence that using deodorants or antiperspirants (either alone or in combination with shaving) increases breast cancer risk. There’s no need to worry about using them.
Using them is a matter of personal choice, but don’t let worrying about breast cancer risk be a factor.
Did you breast-feed your child/children?
Breast-feeding can slightly reduce your risk of breast cancer. The longer you breast-feed during your lifetime, the greater the reduction in your risk of breast cancer. Breast-feeding women should still examine their breasts for unusual changes. It’s common for breasts to be lumpy during breast-feeding, but if you do notice anything unusual or are concerned, get it checked out by your GP.
The decision to breast-feed or not is entirely a personal one and not all women are able to breast-feed. However, breastfeeding can slightly reduce your risk of breast cancer. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the reduction in your risk of breast cancer.
Are you taking, or have you previously taken, the contraceptive Pill?
Taking the Pill slightly increases your risk of developing breast cancer. But, ten years after stopping the Pill, your breast cancer risk returns to that of a woman of the same age who has never taken it. For many, the benefits outweigh the risks, but if you have any concerns about taking or stopping the Pill, speak to your GP.
Taking the Pill slightly increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. But, ten years after stopping the Pill, your breast cancer risk returns to that of a woman of the same age who has never taken it. If you are considering taking the Pill, speak to your GP.
Are you taking, or have you previously taken, HRT?
Taking HRT to treat menopausal symptoms increases the risk of breast cancer, and this risk increases the longer you use HRT. However, as soon as you stop, your breast cancer risk will begin to fall – no matter how long you’ve been taking it. Within five years, your risk is the same as if you had never taken HRT.
Taking HRT to treat menopausal symptoms increases the risk of breast cancer, and this risk increases the longer it is used. However, as soon as you stop, your breast cancer risk will begin to fall – no matter how long you’ve been taking it. Within five years, your risk is the same as if you had never taken it.
Information supplied by Breakthrough Breast Cancer. This quiz is provided for information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. See your GP with any concerns. For information, visit www.breakthroughbreastcancer.org