Breast health is critical for the maintenance of a healthy body. According the the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. One common misconception is that having no family history means you are in the clear. In reality, only 5-10% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history, meaning that the majority of women diagnosed do not have this risk factor. It is therefore important to be aware of other risk factors that may impact breast health, and to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself healthy.
Common risk factors for bad breast health include: a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day. It may seem like some of these factors are too distant from the breasts to affect their health (such as smoking, to which lung cancer is commonly associated), but overall health can greatly impact breast health, and being aware of these factors may help keep breasts healthier for longer.
Two key ways to maintain breast health and catch any problems early are monthly self exams and regular checkups with a physician.
Self exams should be conducted 7-10 days after the end of a menstrual cycle to ensure that breasts are not lumpy/tender due to hormonal fluctuations. Most women can feel some lumps or bumps in their breasts, so it is important to learn what your breasts normally feel like in order to ensure that youâ€™ll be able to tell if a new lump shows up that needs to be checked out. If you experience any changes in your breasts, including new lumps, irritation, dimpling, inversion of the nipple, etc., you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to be checked.
Breast Self ExamÂ This guide will help you perform a self exam!