The Causes of Breast Cancer - Genetically or Environmentally Influenced?

Essay by kdsstudentHigh School, 12th gradeA-, November 2011

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The Causes of Breast Cancer - Genetically or Environmentally Influenced?


Breast cancer is easily defined as the uncontrolled growth of breast cells. (Staff of These cells become abnormal and multiply without control; consequently, forming a tumor. (Staff of the U.S. National Library of Medicine) Though breast cancer can occur in both men and women, women are at a much higher risk of developing the disease. (Staff of MayoClinic) In fact, "About 1 out of every 7 women will get breast cancer over a 90-year lifespan." (Staff of Many risk factors for breast cancer have been identified over the years, although, the actual causes of breast cancer still remain unknown. (Staff of WebMD) The debate whether or not breast cancer, or abnormalities in the development of the breast cells, is influenced by the environment and its surroundings or simply genetics still remains in dispute today. Genetic Influences While the definite causes of breast cancer are unknown, the influences of gene irregularity on the disease play a significant role in the development of cancer in the breasts.

According to the American Cancer Society, "About 5-10% of breast cancers are linked to inherited changes or mutations in certain genes. The most common gene changes are those of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes." (Staff of American Cancer Society) The BRCA genes are considered to be "tumor suppressors" and when mutations are inherited from the parents, they can no longer suppress abnormal growth, therefore, cancer is more likely to develop. (Staff of American Cancer Society) In reality, women and men with the BRCA gene mutations have between a 40-85% chance of getting breast cancer sometime during their life and also tend to develop the disease at an earlier age. (Staff of eMedicineHealth) In addition, there are other variations of the genes...