October is Breast Cancer awareness month. One in eight women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. We, as women, take much better care of our hair and face than we do our breasts. And yet, this part of our anatomy is extremely vital to life, in nursing our children, as well as our self-image, as dictated by cultural mores. So, what can you do to take care of your breasts?
1) It is important to know your body. What is normal and what is not normal? Perform self breast exam monthly to determine if there has been any change. It is best to perform this exam at the same time each month and after your period. For more information and specific instructions visit https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam.
2) Have you ever had your bra fitted to you? Do you know that nearly 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra! Yes! Our breasts change along with the rest of our body and our bra size may change. It is therefore recommended that a professional fitting be done when things change with you ( ie. Weight loss, pregnancy). Many high-end department stores, such as Dillards, have free fittings available. Don’t miss out. Do it!
3) Have a yearly gynecological exam with a physician directed breast exam. This is a good time to have a direct conversation with your doctor about your breasts as well as your sexual health.
4) Get your mammogram. The current recommendation is to screen women starting at the age of forty. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you have a positive family history of breast cancer or discover something that is not normal, then a mammogram may be in order. As an aside, results of mammograms are not 100%. There is an error rate of almost 20%. So, just because the results are read a normal, there may be pathology that is undetected. That means you HAVE to know your own breasts and can be assertive if things do not seem right. There is also a potential error rate on dense breasts. 3D mammograms may be a more appropriate test for women with dense breasts.
5) Are you overweight? This is one factor that can increase the risk of breast cancer. Fat cells produce estrogen, and high levels of that hormone have been linked to certain cancers. Working out can shrink the size of fat cells, so your body pumps out less estrogen. You will feel a heck of a lot better if your weight is within a normal range for your height. Keep your body mass index (BMI) at 25 or less for optimal health. Feel free to investigate www.getfit21.com for more information on a program that will teach you about healthy living, including nutrition and exercise. I’d love to have you join me on the next session.
6) Practice general good health, including nutrition and exercise. Limit alcohol intake, no more than one drink per day, eat fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, drink filtered water, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Supplements that are very helpful to breast health are vitamin D, omega 3, and folic acid.
7) Did you know that there are a number of lymph nodes around the breast area into the axillary area? This is extremely important because lymph needs to flow. Restrictive bras prevent the free flow of lymph, leading to congestion. Cheryl Chapman RN, HNC, a registered nurse, massage therapist, and certified holistic nurse conceived and developed a method to increase lymphatic drainage, called Phluffing. Visit the following links for more information:
https://www.healingtouchprogram.com/content_assets/docs/current/PhluffingYourGirls1.pdf. A short You Tube demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbQ4AOLUy3g. Thank you Cheryl for bringing this quick and easy to perform maneuver for our breast and allowing me to share on my blog.
So, as you can see, there are several things that you can do to enhance the health of your breasts. Take a good look at what you are doing and where you can improve.
Until next time,
Stay well; stay healthy; stay focused.