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Risk Factors of Breast Cancer

Risk Factors of Breast Cancer

This study aims to analyze three research articles and identify the types of cancer discussed and investigated by the authors. In addition, the paper employs critical analysis as the main method to identify the kind of cancer discussed in the articles. Moreover, it analyzes various kinds of genetic risk factors that cause the identified types of cancer. In particular, it defines how various genes and their mutations increase the risk of an individual suffering from this disease. More specifically, the paper discusses more than three genetic risk factors that lead to increased chances of an individual contracting cancer. Similarly, environmental risk factors that may lead to an individual contracting this disease will also be discussed. Some of the environmental risk factors include smoking, using oral contraceptives as well as exposure to chemicals in both industrial and agricultural sectors. The three articles discuss one type of cancer, namely breast cancer. According to the articles, breast cancer is influenced by various genetic as well as environmental factors. Some of the genetic factors that increase the likelihood of the occurrence of breast cancer include changes in the DNA, mutation of both breast cancer gene one (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene two (BRCA2), mutation of the ATM gene, and mutation of theTP53. The study concludes by justifying that cancer is mainly caused by genetic and environmental factors that either expose an individual to harm or alter the function of the hormone.

Gene-Environment Interaction

Recently, cancer has been one of the biggest health problems that are affecting people from different social and economic groups. Women and men as well as the poor and the rich suffer from various types of cancer equally. Numerous researchers have presented various findings speculating about the major causes of this disease in society. However, the studies mostly agree that a great number of cancer types are caused by either gene mutation or environmental factors. Genetic factors that result in various types of cancer are associated with gene mutation, thus altering an individual’s DNA (Durusoy, Zengel, & Aykas, 2018). However, some of the genes are inherited by an individual from the parents. On the other hand, different environmental risk factors such as smoking and inhaling smoke, exposure to radiation, as well as the use of other harmful contraceptives result in an individual suffering from cancer. Consequently, the disease is mainly caused by genetic and environmental factors because the two types of factors either expose an individual to harm or alter hormonal function. Therefore, this paper will critically analyze three articles discussing cancers and identify the types of cancers each is addressing. Moreover, it would be important to discuss both the genetic as well as environmental risk factors of the identified type of cancer.

Gene Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

According to the three articles in question, breast cancer affects and kills a myriad of people across the globe nowadays. However, one of the genetic risks for this disease is changes in the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). According to Behbahani, Nosrati, and Mohabatkar (2018), the main function of DNA is to relay genetic information. Together with Chromosomes in each and every nucleus of cells, the DNA’s double helix provides a pathway through which the DNA is replicated during the cell division. Borgquist et al. (2018) in their study explain that DNA is responsible for controlling when the cells should break down, grow or even die. However, changes in the DNA may result in the deactivation of tumor suppressor genes thereby making some of the cells become cancerous. According to Durusoy et al. (2018) who have investigated the issue of gene mutation, an individual can inherit this disease from their parents.

More specifically, the genetic risk factor for breast cancer is caused by the mutation of both breast cancer gene one (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene two (BRCA2). According to Hendry and Otsuka (2016), every individual possesses both genes. The BRCA genes are the only ones in the body that are tasked with the duty of repairing the damaged cells and tissues found within the breasts. Moreover, they help in ensuring that both the ovarian and breast cells together with other cells grow normally (Keinan-Boker, Levine, Derazne, Molina-Hazan, & Kark, 2016). However, when these genes contain a certain mutation that is inherited from the past generation, their function will be tempered, thus making it hard for them to carry out their duties as required. When the BRCA1 and BRCA2 experience gene mutation, there is a high probability that an individual with such mutation within their cells will suffer from breast cancer or even ovarian cancer (Hendry & Otsuka, 2016). Thus, one of the most risk factors for breast cancer is the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations.

In addition, the genetic risk factor for breast cancer is associated with the mutation of the ATM gene alternatively referred to as the protein-coding gene. The ATM gene is responsible for providing instructions that are required in making the proteins, particularly the ones that are located within the nucleus of cells. Therefore, the ATM gene helps to control the speed at which the cells are growing and dividing. Another function of the ATM gene involves the recognition of any broken or damaged DNA (McCarthy, 2014). DNA can be damaged by different factors such as toxic chemicals or radiation among others. Thus, the ATM protein ensures that it identifies and coordinates the repair of the damaged DNA to fix any broken strands. Hinzey, Gaudier-Diaz, Lustberg, and DeVries, (2016) in their study stipulated the repair of the damaged DNA assist in ensuring that the cell’s genetic information is stable and does not cause any unnecessary mutation. However, when an individual experiences the corrupted ATM genes and two of them have been inherited, he or she will suffer from a condition known as ataxia-telangiectasia which affects brain development. Moreover, studies carried out by Keinan-Boker et al. (2016) have observed that when a person has one of the mutated ATM genes inherited, he or she will suffer from breast cancer. The reason is that the mutations in these genes stop the cells from repairing the damaged cells.

Moreover, mutation of the TP53 genes is another genetic risk factor for breast cancer. TP53 genes are the types of genes that are responsible for relaying the instructions to the body about making proteins that stop tumor growth. According to the research conducted by Kitsera and Shparyk (2016) on gene mutation, TP53 mutation is one of the most common genetic mutations in the human body. The authors assert that the TP53 mutation is liked with more aggressive diseases and is one of the factors that contribute to breast cancer (Krieger, 2015). However, Kitsera and Shparyk (2016) have established that individuals suffering from Li-Fraumeni syndrome have higher risks to suffer from breast cancer and other health conditions such as leukemia, sarcoma, and even brain tumor.

Furthermore, a deleterious mutation in the PALB2 gene is one more genetic risk factor for breast cancer. Gene is a major nuclear partner of the BRCA2 gene due to the fact that it works with BRCA 2 in tandem to repair the damaged DNA as well as prevent tumor growth (Behbahani et al., 2018). Therefore, a person with a mutated PALB2 gene has a higher chance to suffer from breast cancer than any other individual. According to investigations conducted by Kwapisz (2018) and Krieger (2015), women who suffer from the PALB2 gene mutation have a lifetime risk of about 37% to 60% of suffering from breast cancer. The scholars establish that the risks of suffering from this kind of mutation increase as an individual becomes old. For example, at the age of 68, individuals, especially females, with PALB2 gene mutation have a higher likelihood of developing breast cancer. As compared to other genetic risk factors, PALB2 gene mutation poses a serious threat to older as well as to middle age adults. Thus, the genetic risk factor for breast cancer is one of the issues that make many people suffer from this disease.

Environmental Risk Factors of Breast Cancer

On the other hand, many environmental risk factors may result in breast cancer, including exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment, especially chemicals with estrogen properties. Studies carried out by Lin (2018) have revealed that some substances that are used to make the material people use every day, such as particular cosmetics, plastic bags, and containers, pesticides as well as personal care products, have increased the rate at which people are being exposed to estrogen chemicals (Kwapisz, 2018). When an individual is exposed to estrogen chemicals in large quantities or on a daily basis, it may result in mutation of the different cells and genes such as the ATM gene, thus disorganizing the DNA. Consequently, the latter may cause the occurrence of breast cancer.

Tobacco smoking both firsthand and secondhand is another major environmental risk factor for breast cancer. According to the study carried out by McCarthy (2014), tobacco smoke is made up of more than twenty components of carcinogens. To make matters worse when a woman smokes, these substances can directly be traced in their breast fluids as well as in their tissues. Numerous researchers insist on a direct correlation between active smoking and breast cancer, particularly in expectant women (Nickels et al., 2013). Scientists state that women who smoke heavily are at a higher risk of suffering from breast cancer as compared to the other group of women who do not smoke heavily. Similarly, studies conducted by Naseer (2018) have established that environmental tobacco smoke, also known as secondhand smoking, has a directly increased risk of breast cancer in those people who do not smoke. When a woman lives with a husband or a family member who constantly smokes in their presence, she is likely to suffer from breast cancer.

Industrial as well as agricultural chemicals are another major environmental risk factor that increases the chances of an individual suffering from breast cancer. Nickels et al. (2013) explain that when women are exposed to various industrial as well as agricultural chemicals together with their byproducts either at their workplaces or within the community, they are likely to suffer from breast cancer. Many agricultural firms use pesticides and other chemicals which contain carcinogens, especially benzene which when exposed to human beings for a long time may cause the occurrences of this disease (Seltenrich, 2016). Another chemical used in the industrial and agricultural sector that increase the risk factor of breast cancer is the 1,3-Butadiene. This chemical has been classified as a carcinogen, and many studies have linked it to hematopoietic cancer (McCarthy, 2014). Therefore, when it is inhaled or ingested by an individual accidentally and frequently, especially by women, there are higher chances that at one point these people will suffer from breast cancer. Similarly, polychlorinated biphenyls are chemicals that are used as industrial coolants and lubricants. Researchers have proved that this substance increases the chances to be down with breast cancer in those women who work in the environment where it is either stored or sued.

More importantly, lack of physical activity and poor diets is another major environmental risk factor for breast cancer. Studies have established that people who do not participate in any form of physical activity are likely to suffer from various diseases such as breast cancer and even obesity. Physical activity works or helps the body by reducing the amount of body fat as well as reducing the level of estrogen in the body. An increase in the accumulation of fat and estrogen is linked to abnormal body function and may cause unwanted mutation of the DNA, hence resulting in breast cancer (McCarthy, 2014). Similarly, a poor diet has also been revealed to be a factor that causes diabetes. For example, people who do not consume much energy and eat fatty food would become obese thereby making it easier for them to contract this disease. Moreover, high consumption of alcohol increases the chances of suffering from this type of cancer. Seltenrich (2016) has conducted research concerning the influence of alcohol on cancer emergence and defined that it affects the operation of tumors such as ER+/PR+ tumors as well as ER−/PR− malignancies. Alcohol has the capability of altering hormones and hormone receptors; consequently, it can increase an individual’s risk of suffering from breast cancer.

Moreover, exogenous hormones, especially those found in oral contraceptives, are the other environmental risk factors for breast cancer. Breast cancer depends entirely on hormones and malignancy. Therefore, the introduction of exogenous hormones into an individual’s body makes it even easier for the alteration of the hormones, hence increasing the risk of contracting this disease. Oral contraceptives are entirely used by females for birth control as well as for other medical purposes (Borgquist et al., 2018). Numerous researchers have established that oral contraceptives contain carcinogenic. However, individuals using them would not develop a breast problem immediately. Studies stipulate that individuals who have used contraceptives will begin to experience the disease in four years.

Finally, exposure to a high level of radiation, especially ionizing radiation, is one more environmental risk factor for breast cancer. Ionizing radiation contains a high level of carcinogen. When a person is exposed to it, they are directly affected and may begin suffering from breast cancer after a short period of time. Good evidence is drawn from the survivors of the atomic bomb explosion that took place in Japan where the victims began suffering from breast cancer after a short time (Seltenrich, 2016). Nowadays, people can be exposed to such radiation from diagnostic medical equipment and the procedures such as fluoroscopy radiographs among other devices.


In the three articles, the researchers present different results based on the aims of their study. For instance, the study carried out by TNFAIP3 proves that the activities of the ERK1/2 are increased by both activations of iFGFR1 signaling in DCIS-iFGFR1 cells. The authors explain that ERK1/2 activities tend to increase cell proliferation, thus inducing partial epithelial. Moreover, it is evident from the articles that activation of the iFGFR1 signaling further changes the expression levels of 946 genes which are involved in cancer pathways together with other molecular functions (Figure 1). Yang et al. (2018) explain that the knockout reduces tumor growth as well as the baseline proliferation of DCIS-iFGFR1 cells with no treatment.

On the other hand, Borgquist et al. (2018) have revealed that insulin-treated TID patients show a higher percentage dense of 11.4% as compared to females who had no diabetes showing 8.7% dense. The same trend was also observed in the patients suffering from type 1 and 2 diabetes receiving noninsulin glucose medication. The investigation has established that the level of magnitude associated with the absolute dense volume was much higher for those patients who received long-term insulin therapy. The researchers have proved that genetically predicted insulin levels are directly and positively connected to both the absolute dense and percent dense volumes.

Furthermore, Nickels et al. in their study (2013) have detected a direct association between various environmental risk factors and breast cancer. Moreover, by considering the body mass index, the researchers have observed that all the environmental risk factors increase the chances of an individual contracting breast cancer. The scholars explain that the strongest evidence proving the existence of a direct relationship between environmental risk factors and breast cancer is the modification of the direct connection between the LSP1-rs3817198 and the rate of births experienced in parous women.

Therefore, based on the research that explains how genes and environmental risk factors contribute to the occurrences, society can use different ways to help curb the effects of breast cancer. For cases involving hereditary genes that cause this disease, it is recommended to seek early diagnosis before it is late. For instance, when a sister or a brother has been diagnosed with this disease, it is likely that another family member has a higher risk of suffering from breast cancer. This situation applies mostly to first-degree relatives; thus, the person should take hormonal therapy medicine such as Tamoxifen and Evista to help them stay healthy and combat the appearance of the disease. Better still, the person may choose to go for protective surgery such as removing one or both of the healthy breasts together with ovaries so as to keep the disease completely from their bodies.

On the other hand, the environmental risk factors for breast cancer can be prevented by keeping weight in check by taking part in physical activities as well as eating a healthy diet. Moreover, an individual should not smoke or should try to avoid the smoking zones so as to prevent them from the carcinogens from the smoke. If possible, people, especially women, should avoid using oral contraceptives since they contain harmful hormones that tend to adult their hormones, thus causing breast cancer. Most importantly, people who are exposed to radiation while at work should wear protective clothes and gadgets to prevent them from getting into contact with such radiation. The same applies to those who work in places where they are exposed to chemicals causing cancer either in the industrial or agricultural workplaces.


The increased cases of breast cancer in society today can be solved by a change in lifestyle. It means that individuals must be attentive about how they take care of themselves in terms of what they expose themselves to as well as the knowledge they have about their family traits. For instance, they should be aware of the certain genes in their family they inherited that may cause or had caused cancer in the past. After noticing that one of their close relatives suffers from breast cancer, they should take the necessary steps to prevent this disease from attacking them. Furthermore, people can decide on their behaviors and lifestyles that will reduce the risk associated with the environment. For example, an individual should avoid smoking, get involved in physical activities, and put on protective clothing when exposed to some of the risk factors.


From this analysis, it is evident that cancer is mainly caused by genetic and environmental factors that expose an individual to harm and alter hormonal function. It was established that breast cancer is caused by different genetic and environmental risk factors. More specifically, the research explains that breast cancer is by caused by the mutation of both breast cancer gene one (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene two (BRCA2). Furthermore, it was established that the genetic risk factor for breast cancer is also associated with the mutation of the ATM gene known as the protein-coding gene. Moreover, mutation of the TP53 genes was defined as another gene risk factor for breast cancer. On the other hand, the researchers have revealed that there are a number of environmental factors that can result in the development of such type of cancer. In particular, the investigation has identified that exposure to chemicals within the environment constitutes some of the environmental risk factors for breast cancer. In addition, tobacco smoking both firsthand and secondhand is another major environmental risk factor for the disease. Finally, industrial and agricultural chemicals have been observed to increase the chances of an individual suffering from breast cancer. Thus, a person who lives a healthy lifestyle takes appropriate measures concerning protecting him/herself from environmental exposure, and is regularly examined by doctors is less likely to suffer from breast cancer.