Breast cancer is expected to become the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease in Australia, with rates rising by 50 per cent since the 1980s, a specialist surgeon has warned.
Increased alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise among the contributing lifestyle factors.
"The most shocking part is that alcohol consumption in the time between the first period and the first pregnancy has a major impact," Mater breast and melanoma surgeon Dr Heidi Peverill said.
"It's a time when a lot of women are at pubs and clubs and breast cancer prevention would be the last thing on their minds."
While the rate of diagnoses is increasing, statistics from the Breast Cancer Network Australia show the number of deaths from the disease is decreasing.
It notes the risk of being diagnosed by age 85 is one-in-seven for women, with the average age of first diagnoses 62.
Brisbane mother Kymme Davey, 36, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March, two weeks before she gave birth 35 weeks into her pregnancy.
"It's the lack of awareness more than anything which needs to be raised among young women," she said.
Some of the "most powerful" risk factors for breast cancer, such as family history and genetic mutations, can't be changed, Mater breast and endocrine surgeon Chris Pyke said.
"However, one in four breast cancers are potentially preventable," he said
Educating young women on risks and early detection can help reduce the rate of breast cancer in Australia, Dr Peverill said.
"When consuming alcohol, oestrogen does not metabolise well in women and high levels of the hormone circulate their body, contributing to increased cancer risk," she said.
"Women have to make the right choice for themselves, but they need to have all the information to do that."
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Australian Associated Press