Some women work out six days a week. Some ladies get facials and love to preen. Some don’t eat carbs or sugar. Whether you are one of these 40-somethings or not, caring for your body and your breast health is something you can start now – helping to not only protect yourself from diseases like breast cancer but also to keep things prim, outside and in. Now is the best time to start treating yourself well and factoring in preventative measures. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Here are some breast health tips* that you can start putting in action today!
Keep Up with Breast Health Screenings – Breakthrough Breast Cancer recently completed a survey of women showing that only 35% regularly check their breasts for signs of cancer. Breast cancer is a leading cause of death in women and doing self-exams can lead to early diagnosis, which can rapidly increase survival odds.
Know Your Breasts – Many gynecologists tell patients to familiarize themselves with their breasts by checking them monthly and noting changes in size, shape and skin texture, as well as checking for discharge, rashes or lumps. If you don’t know how to check your breasts, ask your doctor.
Don’t Smoke Cigarettes — Smoking has continually been named a foremost cause of many serious illnesses, including breast cancer. A California Department of Health Services study found that the rate of breast cancer amongst women smokers was around 30% higher than for those who had never smoked. Separate research also suggests that the effects of smoking are cumulative, with risk increasing according to years of cigarette smoking. Hence, quitting now could help cut your risk of developing breast cancer.
Check Genetics – Because it’s 2018 and you actually can, why not look into your DNA or heredity (family tree) for the presence of breast cancer? Many websites, like 23andme.com, offer inherently detailed DNA tests and can reveal a ton of health information.
Exercise/Maintain Healthy Weight – Here’s why it may help: 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. The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (ideally, spread out, not all at once). Any kind of cardio will do, so hop on your bike or hit the nature trail. If your time is limited, exercising at high intensity for 75 minutes a week will have the same benefit.
Apply sunscreen – Despite the warnings about skin cancer, many of us are still not applying sunscreen on a regular basis. However, failing to apply sun lotion not only puts the delicate chest area at risk of sunburn and skin cancer, but it can also lead to premature aging of the skin. To prevent a wrinkly cleavage and help keep your décolletage smooth and taut, make sure to apply a minimum of SPF 15 sunscreen whenever your skin is exposed to the sun.
Limit Alcohol Intake – Sure, there’s a positive health buzz around booze, but a meta-analysis of 53 studies showed that women who drank more than three drinks a day had 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer as did nondrinkers. Try to keep it to one serving a day or less: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Check Your Size/Consider Sports Bra – It is thought that more than 70% of women regularly wear the wrong bra size, yet this can not only lead to significant health problems including poor posture, skin irritation, and breathing difficulties, but it can irreversibly damage breast ligaments, leading to breast pain and sagging. Breast size can change frequently over your lifetime due to weight changes, pregnancy or menopause so, rather than guessing your size, make sure you get measured regularly to ensure you are getting the support you need.
Don’t forget folic acid – Not eating enough folate, the naturally occurring form of folic acid, is linked with impaired ability to repair DNA. And damaged DNA has, in turn, been linked to cancer. Folate is found in foods such as spinach and black-eyed peas, as well as in folic-fortified cereals and grains. Try to get 400 micrograms daily.
Improve Posture – If you want to give yourself an instant breast lift, the best thing you can do is improve your posture. The chest muscles can lose flexibility when your shoulders are hunched, causing sagging over time. Pay attention to how you stand and sit throughout the day and consider taking up an exercise that will improve your posture such as yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi.
*BONUS breast health tip: if you happen to be pregnant, breastfeeding is an interactive activity that also helps reduce the risk of breast cancer recent studies show (while also reducing the occurrence of postpartum depression and Diabetes Type 2 and ovarian cancer).