Yes, you are a woman and that is your biggest risk for developing breast cancer, notes The American Cancer Society. While this fact is inarguable, the society also points out that the diagnosis of breast cancer in women has gone up due to improved detection methods accompanied by increased awareness. However, the rise in new breast cancer cases is still prevalent.

There are several factors which increase your susceptibility to breast cancer—genes, hormones, age, and unhealthy lifestyle habits among others. However, there are also simple daily habits which can result in a positive breast mammogram.

To observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, we tell you about five such things which might be unknowingly putting you at a risk.

Weight Gain

weight gain

Weight Gain: Research suggests that overweight and obese women are more prone to developing breast cancer as opposed to their counterparts. This risk augments two-fold after menopause since more fat corresponds to more estrogen in the body. Overweight individuals also tend to have slightly higher blood insulin levels, which have been observed to increase the risk of breast cancer. While this relationship is quite complex to understand, a study published in the journal BMJ Open, noted that women who went a skirt size up every decade between their 20s and 60s, increased their risk by 33 percent. [1]

Contraceptive Pills

birth control pills

Contraceptive Pills: A chock full of estrogen, your birth control pills may be putting you at an increased risk of breast cancer. While they may be protecting you from unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, high doses of the hormone in your blood can overstimulate your breast cells compounding your breast cancer risk. A recent study published in the journal Cancer Research, found this association to be true and valid. [2]



Alcohol: Research has backed this connection time and again, providing valid data on how excessive consumption of alcohol can take you closer to damaging your breast health. The American Cancer Society denotes that those women who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk of women who don’t drink alcohol.

Eating Too Late

eating very late

Eating Too Late: While your diet can contribute a major chunk to your increased breast cancer risk, the time that you eat also donates equally to the peril. How? According to a recent study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a late night snack can become detrimental to your breast health. [3] Dining late in the night can conflict with your insulin levels and hamper the efficient utilization of glucose, which has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.

Late Night Work

late night work

Late Night Work: Yes, working very late in the night may be secretly working up to form cancerous lumps in your breast. Not only does late night work mess up with your circadian rhythm wreaking havoc on your hormones and health, it can also amplify your risk for developing breast cancer. While this is a fairly recent finding and more studies are need to back this claim, a study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found women who worked night shifts were up to four times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who didn’t. [4]

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Women’s Health here.

Read More:
10 Celebs Who Have Survived Breast Cancer
6 Foods That Help Prevent Breast Cancer
How Your Breasts Change With Age (& How To Keep Them Healthy)

1. Fourkala EO, Burnell M, Cox C, Ryan A, Salter LC, Gentry-Maharaj A, Parmar M, Jacobs I, Menon U. Association of skirt size and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in older women: a cohort study within the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS). BMJ Open. 2014 Sep 24;4(9):e005400. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005400. PubMed PMID: 25252818; PubMed Central PMCID:PMC4185339.

2. Beaber EF, Buist DS, Barlow WE, Malone KE, Reed SD, Li CI. Recent oral contraceptive use by formulation and breast cancer risk among women 20 to 49 years of age. Cancer Res. 2014 Aug 1;74(15):4078-89. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-3400. PubMed PMID: 25085875; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4154499.

3. Marinac CR, Natarajan L, Sears DD, Gallo LC, Hartman SJ, Arredondo E, Patterson RE. Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Risk: Findings from NHANES (2009-2010). Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 May;24(5):783-9. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-1292. Epub 2015 Apr 20. PubMed PMID: 25896523; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4417458.

4. Hansen J, Lassen CF. Nested case-control study of night shift work and breast cancer risk among women in the Danish military. Occup Environ Med. 2012 Aug;69(8):551-6. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2011-100240. Epub 2012 May 29. PubMed PMID:22645325.