There is a plethora of recognized risk factors for breast cancer (BC) with poorly understood or speculative biological mechanisms. The lack of prevention options highlights the importance of understanding the mechanistic basis of cancer susceptibility and finding new targets for breast cancer prevention. Until now, we have understood risk and cancer susceptibility primarily through the application of epidemiology and assessing outcomes in large human cohorts. Relative risks are assigned to various human behaviors and conditions, but in general the associations are weak and there is little understanding of mechanism. Aging is by far the greatest risk factor for BC, and there are specific forms of inherited genetic risk that are well-understood to cause BC. We propose that bringing focus to the biology underlying these forms of risk will illuminate biological mechanisms of BC susceptibility.

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