Breast Cancer Risk Factors

When it comes to preventing breast cancer, 90% of breast cancers can’t be explained by genetics alone. Learn the protective (meaning they can decrease breast cancer risk), potentially harmful, and emerging factors that can impact your risk of breast cancer. 

Factors that influence breast cancer risk include:

  • Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise
  • Systemic factors like race, power, and inequities
  • Chemical and radiation exposures (see our Glossary of Exposures for exposures to avoid)
  • Genetics 

This information is based on the groundbreaking report Paths to Prevention: the California Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan, which is a blueprint for reducing breast cancer incidence across the U.S.

Foundational Risk Factors

Heat power station in winter

Race, Power, & Inequities

Heat power station in winter

Social & Built Environment

Genetics and breast cancer diagnosis


Protective Factors

Woman running active outdoors

Physical Activity


Pregnancy-related Factors

Breastfeeding mother feeds baby


Risk Factors

Woman running active outdoors


Breast Density

Breast Density

Ban PFAS in Clothing and Cosmetics CA AB2771 AB1817 Action

Chemicals in Products

food safe glass containers plant based diet

Diet and Nutrition

Medical imaging Radiation

Ionizing Radiation


Light at Night

Portrait of grandmother and granddaughter embracing in the beach

Menarche & Menopause

birth controll pills synthetic and pharmaceutical hormones

Non-Ionizing Radiation

Female janitor with cleaning supplies occupational hazard


girl stands in water in front of industrial plant

Place-based Exposures

Non-ionizing radiation cell phones and digital devices

Pharmaceutical Hormones

smoking tobacco


Emerging Risk Factors

Noisy neighborhood

Ambient Noise

Senior Mexican Woman Working Out

Body Weight

neck and shoulder pain, old woman suffering from neck and shoulder injury, health problem concept


woman researcher performing examination of bacterial culture plate


Business professional is worried about being fired


Vitamin D keeps you healthy while lack of sun. Yellow soft shell D-vitamin capsule against sun and blue sky on sunny day. Cure concept.

Vitamin D

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