Breast health includes not only taking care of your breasts but also taking care of your body overall. Breast cancer, which can be detected early on with regular screenings, has survival rates in the 90% range if caught early enough, so it’s important to get your annual screenings started as soon as you become sexually active (no matter what age). Here are 5 ways to take care of your breast health and lower your risk of breast cancer.
1) Maintain a healthy weight
According to research, gaining just 10 pounds can raise a woman’s risk for breast cancer by 16 percent. For women who are genetically predisposed to breast cancer, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise can lower their risk even further. Ideally, aim for an active lifestyle that leads to a BMI in the normal range—between 18.5 and 24.9 for most women—and eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
Exercise helps your body burn off excess estrogen and keeps you fit, which is important for healthy breast tissue. Plus, exercise promotes endorphins (naturally produced feel-good chemicals in our brains), which can reduce depression and stress—both of which have been linked to a higher risk for breast cancer. When exercising, be sure to drink plenty of water; dehydration has been shown to increase a woman’s risk for fibrocystic changes and breast pain or tenderness, so stay hydrated!
3) Eat a healthy, balanced diet
According to a 2009 review in Breast Cancer Research, adopting a diet rich in healthy fats and low in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Some good sources include avocados, olive oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Also be sure you’re getting enough vitamins C and E from vegetables, fruits, and nuts, as well as calcium from dairy products or green leafy vegetables.
4) Watch out for lumps
If you find a lump or thickening in your breast, don’t wait around; get it checked out. Most lumps aren’t cancerous (especially those discovered during self-exams), but if you want to be safe, check with a doctor.
5) Keep it Clean
Wash thoroughly under your breasts every time you shower. If you tend to get sweaty in that area, shower more often. Exfoliate with a washcloth or loofah, but make sure it’s not an abrasive one; you don’t want to irritate your skin! Apply lotion daily and massage it into your breasts, especially when they feel dry.
Food for healthy breast
Choose healthy food. Eat lots of vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. These foods are high in fiber and can help prevent breast cancer by reducing your body’s production of estrogen. You also may want to choose low-fat dairy products or soy products, which have been shown to protect against some types of breast cancer. Limit how much red meat you eat and avoid processed meats like bacon or sausage because they contain nitrates that can damage cells in your breasts.
Self-examination of breast and signs and symptoms of breast cancer for early detection and treatment
1. Get a baseline mammogram when you’re in your 20s, and then regularly thereafter, beginning at age 40. These are important steps in understanding what’s normal for you, so you can recognize changes that could be signs of breast cancer (more on that later).
2. Each month, use a mirror to look at both breasts and note any changes: skin color, lumps or swelling, dimpling, puckering, redness, or scaliness.
3. See your doctor immediately if you feel like something isn’t right. Pay attention to any breast issues, no matter how small they seem.
Also pay attention to: Seven Common Reasons For Breast Pain
Tips for pregnant women
As a woman, it is crucial that you are aware of your own breast health and how changes in hormones during pregnancy can impact it. Here are five tips for taking care of your breast health
- Be conscious of any lumps or bumps: During pregnancy, lumps or bumps may appear on your breasts. This could be from hormonal changes affecting breast tissue. If you notice anything abnormal about your breasts while pregnant, report it to your OB/GYN right away so they can have a doctor look at them and rule out potential issues such as breast cancer, cysts, or infections.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol: Just like smoking damages the lungs, breast tissues can get damaged by smoking as well. The effects aren’t just physical either; studies show women who smoked during their pregnancy are more likely to see their child struggle academically later on in life. Drinking alcohol is never healthy for anyone – drinking while pregnant increases your child’s risk of having fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms such as vision and hearing impairment, developmental delays, and growth problems throughout childhood.
- Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mom and baby. One benefit for mom is that breast milk contains compounds called phytoestrogens which help reduce inflammation and pain caused by premenstrual syndrome symptoms like bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and fatigue. In addition to those benefits, breastfeeding has been shown to protect against both ovarian cancer and breast cancer in women who nurse exclusively for six months or longer. It’s never too late to begin
Wear a bra at night or not?
Wearing a bra at night may be more trouble than it’s worth. Studies have shown that sleeping in a bra can lead to fibrocystic breasts, which are characterized by lumpy, dense tissue. Try sleeping without a bra if you’re experiencing pain in your breast area; some women report better comfort and less pain after going braless.