5 Steps to Safeguarding Against Breast Cancer

Let’s face it, other than choosing a comfortable bra with ample support, you probably aren’t regularly thinking about how you can protect your breasts — especially from a serious health risk. Women’s Care Florida wants you to know that there are several steps you can take to help lower your odds for developing breast cancer.

For women who live in the United States, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, aside from lung cancer. Although breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, it can be treated when found early on. Don’t let breast cancer affect your health and livelihood. Here are six healthy lifestyle habits that can help you lower your odds for developing breast cancer:

1.    Reduce alcohol intake

High alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. You may want to limit yourself to one drink per day or consider not drinking at all. Or, try swapping out high-calorie beverages for one glass of red wine, which offers positive health benefits for your heart. Consult a healthcare provider for their recommendations to find out how much you should or shouldn’t drink based on your health history.

2. Be more active

Hitting the gym isn’t just a good way to slim down. Exercise also helps reduce your risk for breast cancer (and other diseases) by helping you maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation and regulate estrogen and other hormones. Try to do things you genuinely love and enjoy, like bike riding or kayaking, since doing so can help you stick to a regular exercise routine long-term. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, five days per week for the best results.

3. Review your family history

Women with a family history of breast cancer are often at higher risk for developing the disease. Ask all the women you’re related to if they’ve ever experienced problems with breast cancer, then inform your gynecologist immediately if breast cancer is part of your family history. This step can help you identify an increased risk for breast cancer as early as possible.

4. Get more sleep

Making sleep a priority in your life is easier said than done. However, ensuring adequate sleep may help reduce your risk for breast cancer.  New research shows that women with chronically inadequate sleep or frequently interrupted sleep can cause a disruption in the circadian rhythm and possibly elevate the risk of developing breast cancer.   Your body repairs itself while it sleeps, and generates hormones and new, healthy cells that can help reduce your risk for illness and disease in general. Aim for between 7.5 and eight hours of sleep per night to improve your overall health and lower the risk for breast cancer.

5. Perform breast self-exams

Your gynecologist will perform a breast examination at your annual appointment, but don’t wait around for your doctor to inform you of lumps and other symptoms. Check your breasts for lumps and irregularities at least once per month, and inform your gynecologist immediately if you notice any changes in the way your breasts look or feel.

6. Visit your gynecologist every year or more as needed

Although this isn’t the only preventative measure you can take, scheduling an annual checkup with your gynecologist is highly important. Meet with them around the same time every year, and don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you notice a change in your breasts or female health. Your doctor can perform a breast exam and recommend a mammogram screening to look for signs of breast cancer.

Adopting these healthy habits and keeping in touch with your gynecologist can make a big difference in your breast health, as well as your overall health.To learn more about mammograms or other forms of preventative care, make an appointment with Women’s Care Florida today.

Uncommon breast cancer symptoms

Recently, a young woman courageously bared it all on social media to make a point about detecting breast cancer. It all started when a dimple appeared on her breast, and she went to her primary care physician for an opinion. Her physician sent her to a breast cancer center where she was diagnosed with breast cancer — it came as a total shock.

Like many women, she was aware of the common signs of breast cancer (lumps and bumps), but had no idea a dimple was considered a warning sign. After learning about her diagnosis, she decided to post a picture of her breast on social media to help raise awareness about this unlikely symptom. Her story went viral.

In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to jump on the bandwagon and spread awareness about uncommon breast cancer symptoms. Lumps and bumps may be more common, but are certainly not the only warning signs.

Here are some others to look for:

Breast Puckering

According to WebMD, puckering is an indentation that appears when you raise your arms and retracts when you put your arms back down. To check for this warning sign, stand in front of your mirror, lift your arms above the head and look for any indents that occur. If you find one, this does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Make an appointment with your OB/GYN to discuss an action plan.

Nipple Discharge

If clear discharge or blood comes out of the nipple on its own, then make an appointment with your doctor. Although an unlikely symptom, this can be a sign of breast cancer.

Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling, redness or darkening of breast
  • Change in size or shape
  • Itchy, scaly or rash on nipple
  • Pulling in your nipple or other part of breast
  • Breast pain after menopause

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN right away. Millions of women are surviving breast cancer today thanks to early detection and improvements in testing and treatment. To learn more about early detection and screenings, click here.

Dense breast tissue: what you need to know

Breast health has become an important topic of conversation for women these days. Heightened awareness of breast cancer risks and the benefits of early detection has empowered women to be more proactive in protecting their health. One of the factors affecting the accuracy of breast cancer screenings is a condition known as ‘dense breast tissue,’ or simply ‘dense breasts.’

What does it mean if you have dense breasts? According to a recent article on the Medical News Today website, dense breast tissue can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. It can also make it more difficult for physicians to identify cancerous lesions in the breast.

Women’s breasts are made up of three components: lobules, ducts and a connective tissue that can be fatty and fibrous. Breast density can fall under one of four categories: mostly fatty, scattered density, consistent density and extremely dense. When a woman’s breasts are more fibrous than they are fatty, a doctor may diagnose her with dense breasts. According to Stanford Health Care, “10% of U.S. women have almost entirely fatty breasts, 10% have extremely dense breasts and 80% are classified into either scattered density or consistent density”.

Diagnosing dense breast tissue

Having firm or large breasts doesn’t automatically mean that you have dense breasts. In fact, the only viable way to determine if your have dense breasts is through a mammogram or x-ray given by your doctor. While the diagnosis isn’t uncommon or life threatening, it is important to understand the risks associated with dense breasts – the more dense a women’s breasts are, the more difficult it is for doctors to identify cancerous lesions. Your physician may need to use different imaging techniques such as MRI to differentiate between dense tissue and tumors.

While there is no way to prevent dense breasts, there are steps that you can take to help lower your risk of breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in physical activity on a regular basis, decreasing your alcohol intake and obtaining from smoking are great ways to help reduce your risk of breast cancer. It’s also important to stay up to date on mammogram screenings and to identify and discuss any family history of breast cancer with your doctor.

Talk to your OB-GYN to learn more about dense breasts and how you can help lower your risk of breast cancer. The board-certified physicians at Women’s Care Florida are dedicated to keeping you healthy. Contact us today to make an appointment for a mammogram screening.