How Dad Can Raise Your Risk

Can your father give you breast cancer?

By Cynthia Dermody from Reader's Digest | October 2007

If your mom or her sisters never got breast cancer, you don’t have to worry, right? Wrong.

You’re just as likely to inherit the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, the biggest genetic predictors of the disease, from Dad’s side of the family. Having the mutations means you have a 50% chance of getting breast cancer before age 50. So ask Dad about his family history, and if your doc doesn’t bring it up, make sure you do.

BRCA mutations are just one piece of the family tree puzzle. Scientists are trying to pinpoint a group of weaker, or “low-penetrance,” genes. Alone, they raise the odds of the disease only slightly. But a woman with several of them might see that risk skyrocket.