Soldiers may seem invincible, but when it comes to breast cancer, many female soldiers are at greater risk than their civilian counterparts. A recent study at Walter Reed Medical Center revealed military women are 20 to 40 percent more likely to face a breast cancer diagnosis than other women in the same age group. Research suggests that increased exposure to risk factors such as oral contraception usage, toxic chemicals and industrial jobs could explain the disproportionate rates of breast cancer diagnosis in military women. Military men are also vulnerable to breast cancer, and investigations are currently underway to determine why certain military populations have seen spikes in male breast cancer.
Military health activists are pushing Congress to explore the causes of high breast cancer rates within the military and veteran communities. If studies conclude that exposures during military service correlate with breast cancer, advocates hope to classify the disease as a service-related disability, thereby ensuring military medical benefits for service men and women battling breast cancer.