Breast Health Means More Than Mammograms


July 24th, 2008

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer for women of all ages and racial groups and while the survival rate for those diagnosed with it has doubled over the past forty years, it’s still a dangerous and potentially disfiguring condition that affects the lives of thousands of women every year. For many women, a large part of breast cancer prevention is getting annual mammograms, but for certain women with dense breast tissue these tests may not be enough to detect and protect them from breast cancer. While mammograms certainly can be helpful, women should be looking out for breast health on several different fronts, aiming both for prevention as well as early detection.

Here are some things every woman should be doing to protect her breast health, no matter her age, race, genetics or other factors.

Perform monthly exams. There is no reason to wait until you visit a doctor to check your breasts for any abnormalities. Most recommend performing the test in the shower, but you can do it anywhere you’re comfortable. Be on the lookout for hard lumps or any suspicious changes in your breasts.

Don’t put off doctor visits. Getting yearly checkups with your doctor is essential for maintaining both your overall health as well as your breast health. Your doctor may be aware of problems you hadn’t noticed or can help provide you with better breast care advice. While you might be able to get by with visiting the doctor less often in your 20′s, once you hit 30 you should visit your doctor every year as your breast cancer risk jumps dramatically.

Get your vitamins. You can help your breast health and the health of every other part of your body by getting the vitamins and minerals you need to stay strong and fit. Some of the vitamins that best help promote breast health are vitamin D and calcium.

Stop smoking. Smoking doesn’t just hurt your lungs but can impact the rest of your body as well. Those carcinogens can help bring on cancer in your breasts just as easily as they can your lungs, so quit as soon as possible.

Listen to your body. You know better than anyone when something just isn’t quite right or seems off. If you suspect a problem with your breasts, don’t wait to see a doctor.

Know your family medical history. It’s essential that you find out all your can about your family history of breast cancer. If many women in your family have had it, you’ll want to be extra careful about watching your breast health.

There is no surefire way to prevent getting breast cancer and even mammograms might miss out on lumps that could indicate cancer, but that doesn’t mean women shouldn’t do all they can to help maintain good breast health and watch out for any signs of problems.

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