A risk factor is a variable associated with an increased risk of disease such as breast cancer or heart disease. Breast cancer and heart disease each have several risk factors independent of one another; however, both diseases also share many of the same risk factors in women.
The following are shared risk factors in women for breast cancer and heart disease:
- Family history
- Alcohol consumption
- Physical inactivity
- Night-shift work (due to disrupting the circadian rhythm and potential suppression of melatonin, linked to tumor development)
Some of these risk factors, such as family history and age, women have little/no control over. However, leading a healthy lifestyle including a well-balanced diet (fruits, vegetables, proteins) and regular exercise as well as not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are choices a woman can make to help lower her risk of developing breast cancer and heart disease.
Having a risk factor does not mean a woman will get a disease and not all risk factors affect individual women to the same extent. Contact your doctor to learn more about your risk factors for the development of breast cancer and heart disease.
(Sources: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society)