What Causes Breast Cancer? Sometimes, Nothing

What Causes Breast Cancer? Sometimes, Nothing

We’ve spent the last few posts on things that increase or don’t increase your risk for breast cancer. Things that increase the risk of developing breast cancer we call risk factors – but let’s be perfectly clear: the risk factors do not equate with causes of breast cancer. What leads one person to develop breast cancer while another with an identical risk profile does not? The answer is – we don’t know and we wish we did.


We have discussed both modifiable and nonmodifiable risk factors for breast cancer. But the simple fact is, women are at risk no matter what. This is why we’re so crazy about early detection. This is why we insist upon the importance of screening mammograms no matter what your risk profile. This is why we do what we do.


Why have we written over 250 posts on breast health (not just cancer but good health!)? Because lives can be saved. One of our biggest frustrations is when the system doesn’t work – when someone who could be screened isn’t; when someone is screened, but cancer goes undetected; when someone does all the right steps, but develops breast cancer anyway.


There are no certainties with breast cancer. Even being one of the small percentage of women who carry the BRCA mutation doesn’t mean you will develop cancer. There are other factors involved, some we know, some we guess at, and some are waiting to be discovered.


What causes cells to develop into cancers is complex, for breast as well as other cancers. There are multiple factors involved – and not all known. Genetics play a role, your environment and diet play a role, your general health and well-being play a role. Doing everything “right” –  modifying those risk factors which you can modify – does not PREVENT breast cancer. Women who abstain from alcohol and smoking, who exercise regularly and keep a healthy body weight, who have breastfed and didn’t enter into puberty at a young age… even with a “perfect score,” no one is scott-free.

There is still so much left to know about the disease. We arm ourselves with information. We support the research which furthers our knowledge and brings us closer to a day we conquer it. We want long healthy lives for all women! Our aim is to help in every way we can to achieve that goal.



Originally published 4/21/14 on mammographykc.com.