Your Breasts and the Big ‘C’
At SBD we are all about helping you achieve the best support for your breasts but we also want to make sure you are armed with current knowledge about how to look after your breasts to keep them healthy and the big ‘C’ at bay. It is never too early or too late to start.
I have summarised some key areas that can help, however this list is definitely not exhaustive. There is a ton of information available on the internet and I have included some links within this post for those of you that would like to read more (please note these links are for an interesting read but every women is different and we advise seeking medical help if you have any concerns about your breasts).
Get to Know Your Girls!
Your breasts are unique so the best place to start is to really getting to know your own breasts well. “Knowing what your breasts look and feel like can help you recognize when something is suddenly different” says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women. http://www.drpeeke.com/
You may be concerned that your breasts aren’t ‘normal’ if they are different sizes or one breast hangs slightly lower than the other but these types of things are actually very common. What is important is knowing what is ‘normal’ for you. Be familiar with how your breasts look and feel. It can be helpful to examine them in front of a mirror, other women get used to examining their breasts while having a bath or shower. Simply find what works for you and create the habit.
Know What Changes to Look For
It’s easy to freak out if you find a lump but changes in your breasts don’t always mean that something is wrong. Try to stay calm and book a visit to your doctor to get it checked out. Some changes to look for include:
– lump in your breast or armpit.
– swelling around your breast, armpit or collarbone.
– blood or fluid (other than breast milk) leaking from your nipples.
– redness, dry or cracked skin around your nipple.
– irritation or dimpling of your breast skin.
– warmth or itching in your breasts.
– pain in your breasts (which is not your normal tenderness before and during your period).
– growth or change in any moles.
Exercise is great on so many levels but as we are specifically talking about breast health I’ll keep my focus! Fat cells produce oestrogen and high levels of this hormone have been linked to certain cancers, including breast cancer. Exercise can shrink the size of fat cells so they produce less oestrogen and may reduce your risk of breast cancer. Cancer Australia suggests aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day and reducing your sedentary habits, such as watching TV.
Reduce your Alcohol
I’m always coming across articles boasting the health benefits of red wine…and to be honest it makes me feel good to be told that the glass of red I indulged in last night was actually good for me! However, if you can limit your alcohol to one drink a day or less it can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. For more information and tips on how to reduce your alcohol intake visit http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/alcohol
Eat those veggies
It is widely publicised that eating lots of veggies and moderate amounts of fruit is great for our health. Breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is plant based and low in total fat. Boosting your immune system through a good diet will help keep your risk for breast cancer as low as possible. Filling up on fresh produce and limiting processed foods can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Staying within a healthy weight range can help protect you against increased oestrogen production. So load up your plates with lots of fresh produce. Your whole body will thank you.
Stop the Smokes
Smoking is linked to many diseases including increased risk of breast cancer. If you don’t smoke, fantastic…don’t start! Smoking is a habit that can be really hard to break but there is lots of help available. The Australian Governments ‘quit now’ website is a great place to start http://www.quitnow.gov.au/
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast screening, also known as a mammogram, is a low dose x-ray examination of your breasts. It can help to detect early signs of breast cancer. Breast screening is not recommended for women under 40 as younger women tend to have denser breast tissue making it harder for the screening to provide accurate results. In Australia women aged 40 and over are entitled to a free mammogram every two years. Further information about breast screening can be found on the Breast Cancer Network Australia website https://www.bcna.org.au/breast-health-awareness/breast-cancer-screening/
I hope this post prompts you to give a bit more thought to your breasts and what you can do to help them stay healthy and cancer free.
Other resources you may want to check out: