(HealthDay News) – New research suggests that many women who have undergone mammography may be unaware that breast density is associated with breast cancer or may underestimate the risk associated with having dense breasts. These findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers surveyed 2306 women (aged 40 to 76 years) who had recently undergone mammography and conducted interviews with 61 women who knew their breast density. The goal was to assess the women’s perception of breast density and other breast cancer risk factors as well as determine their understanding of risk reduction.

Most survey respondents thought having dense breasts pose a lesser risk of breast cancer than having a first-degree relative with breast cancer (93%) or being overweight or obese (65%). Roughly half of the respondents thought having dense breasts is a greater risk than not having children (52%), having more than 1 alcoholic drink per day (53%), or having a prior breast biopsy (48%).

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Of the 61 women interviewed, 10% identified breast density as contributing to breast cancer risk, and 28% said they did not know whether it was possible to reduce their breast cancer risk.

“Comprehensive education about breast cancer risks and prevention strategies is needed,” the study authors wrote. “Despite laws that require women to be notified about breast density, women did not describe a strong understanding of the risk associated with breast density relative to other breast cancer risk factors.”

One author disclosed financial ties to Gilead Sciences.

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