There’s no evidence that any of these factors affect your risk of developing breast cancer, even though you may have heard some of them talked about.
Having an abortion does not affect your risk of developing breast cancer.
Some previous research on abortion suggested it might increase your risk of breast cancer. But several well-designed studies from recent years have shown this is not the case.
Having breast implants does not increase your risk of breast cancer.
Several studies have shown that having breast implants of any type – silicone, saline or PIP – does not increase your risk of breast cancer.
Chemicals in the environment
Overall, there’s no conclusive evidence that exposure to chemicals in the environment increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
Lots of studies have looked at the relationship between breast cancer and chemicals in the environment such as pesticides, traffic fumes and plastics, but there’s no clear evidence of any links. It can be very difficult to work out the effects of individual chemicals when we are exposed to low levels of thousands of chemicals during our lifetime.
Some studies have suggested that women who are exposed to chemicals in their jobs, for example in the manufacturing industry, may be at higher risk of breast cancer.
But the evidence is weak and more research is needed to be sure. It’s important to remember that employers are legally required to limit exposure to chemicals that may cause cancer.
Deodorants and antiperspirants
If you use deodorants or antiperspirants, this does not increase your risk of breast cancer.
There have been claims that using deodorants or antiperspirants increase your risk of breast cancer for several years. Some people have also claimed that aluminium in antiperspirants can increase your risk. Aluminium salts are commonly used as an ingredient in antiperspirants to block sweat ducts to stop you from sweating.
But current evidence does not show a convincing link between deodorants or antiperspirants and breast cancer.
There’s no conclusive evidence that any particular foods (such as dairy products, soy or fruit or vegetables) affect your risk of breast cancer, either by increasing or reducing your risk.
Although a lot of research has been done, the link between diet and breast cancer is hard to untangle because we all eat a wide variety of foods and our diets change over time. It’s also difficult to separate out the effects of individual foods in your diet from other lifestyle factors that might affect your risk.
But we do know that eating a balanced and varied diet helps to keep you at a healthy weight, which reduces your risk of breast cancer overall.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
There’s no evidence that having in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment affects your risk of breast cancer.
Evidence so far suggests women who have received IVF treatment are no more likely to develop breast cancer than women who have not had IVF. However, IVF is a relatively new procedure and more research is needed to be sure of all the long-term health effects.
Overall, it’s unlikely that having a miscarriage affects your risk of developing breast cancer.
Some previous research on miscarriage suggested it might increase your risk of breast cancer. But several well-designed studies from recent years have shown this is not the case.
It’s possible that having a miscarriage does increase your risk but only after the menopause, or that having more than one miscarriage might increase your risk. More research is needed to confirm these links.
Some other studies have suggested that having a miscarriage may reduce your risk of breast cancer, but the evidence for this is too weak to be conclusive.
Mobile phones and household electricals
There’s no evidence that radiation from mobile phones, microwaves, TVs, radios or household electricals has any effect on your risk of developing breast cancer.
Radiation from these sources is called non-ionising radiation. X-rays and radiotherapy use a different type of radiation which can increase your risk of breast cancer.
There’s no conclusive evidence to show that stress increases your risk of breast cancer.
A number of studies have looked at the links between stress and breast cancer, but there isn’t enough evidence to show a clear association.
How we all determine our stress levels can be very different, which means it can be difficult to measure. It can also be linked to a rise in other lifestyle behaviours, such as being less active or drinking alcohol, which could also increase your risk of breast cancer. So it’s difficult to pinpoint what effect stress might have.
Want some more information?
If you are worried about any of the breast cancer risk factors mentioned here you should discuss your concerns with your doctor.
For more information on any of the factors likely to affect your breast cancer risk, see our booklet on knowing the facts.