What are risk factors for invasive breast cancer?


The biggest risk for invasive breast cancer is being a woman, just having that breast tissue and having the estrogen exposure. Age is another large risk as well. The older you get, the higher the risk of getting breast cancer.

The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this article have been compiled from a podcast and are for general information only.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911.This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Most breast cancers are invasive. Anyone may be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Factors that may increase risk include:
  • Gender: Women are at greater risk than men for developing invasive breast cancer.
  • Race: Invasive breast cancer rates are lower among black, Asian and Hispanic women and higher among white women.
  • Age: Women who are age 55 years and older are at greater risk for invasive breast cancer than women under age 55.
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations: BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that help repair damaged DNA. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can be inherited from a family member and are the most common causes of inherited breast cancer, which is most often invasive.
  • Other genetic mutations: Other genetic mutations that may increase a woman’s risk of invasive breast cancer include ATM, p53, CHEK2, PTEN and CDH1. These mutations are rare and do not increase risk as much as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Family history of breast cancer: Having a family history of breast cancer, particularly women with a mother, sister or daughter who has or has had breast cancer, may double the risk.
  • Dense breast tissue: Women with less fatty tissue and more glandular tissue in the breast may be at higher risk for developing invasive breast cancer.
  • Not having children: Women who have had no children, or who were pregnant later in life (over age 35) may have a greater chance of developing breast cancer. Breastfeeding may help to lower the risk of breast cancer.
  • Obesity: After menopause, fat tissue may contribute to increases in estrogen levels, and high levels of estrogen may increase the risk of breast cancer. Weight gain during adulthood and excess body fat around the waist may also play a role.

Continue Learning about Breast Cancer

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.