6 Steps for Breast Cancer Prevention

Other than choosing a comfortable bra with ample support, you probably don’t regularly think about how you can protect your breasts. Women’s Care Florida wants you to know that we have several steps you can take to help lower your odds of 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. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. However, you can treat it better when you find it early on. Don’t let breast cancer affect your health and livelihood. Here are six breast cancer prevention tips that can help you lower your odds for developing breast cancer:

1. Reduce alcohol intake

Yes, alcohol and breast cancer are correlated. High alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. You may want to limit yourself to one drink per day. For the most effective breast cancer prevention, consider not drinking at all. Also, try swapping out high-calorie beverages for one glass of red wine. Some studies have found correlations between red wine and positive health benefits for your heart. However, note that evidence is limited. 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. Research indicates exercise and breast cancer are negatively correlated. Plus, exercise reduces 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. 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 experienced problems with breast cancer. Then, inform your gynecologist immediately if breast cancer takes part in your family tree. 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 with breast cancer prevention. 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 seven and nine 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. In fact, the primary prevention of breast cancer involves getting yearly screenings. 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. She went to her primary care physician who sent her to a breast cancer center. After, doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. Like many women, she knew the common signs of breast cancer such as breast lumps. However, she had no idea that we also consider dimples a warning sign. Many are unfamiliar with less common breast cancer symptoms such as dimples and nipple discharge. Here are some other uncommon symptoms to look for:

  • Breast puckering
  • Nipple discharge
  • Swelling, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in size or shape
  • Itchy, scaly or rash on the nipple
  • Breast pain after menopause

Breast Puckering

Puckering consists of an indentation that appears when you raise your arms. It retracts when you put your arms back down. To check for uncommon breast cancer symptoms such as this, stand in front of a mirror. Then, 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. However, make an appointment with your OB/GYN to discuss more. They will determine if it consists with early signs of breast cancer.

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.

Swelling, redness or darkening of the breast

Also known as inflammatory breast cancer, this uncommon breast cancer symptom develops quickly making the breast swollen and inflamed. Many confuse it with a skin infection causing it to go untreated. If you experience this symptom, contact your provider immediately. Oncologists consider this type of cancer advances due to its rapid development.

Changes in breast size

Changes in breast size can be natural. However, it can also be one of the early signs of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer can cause breasts to swell. Plus, look for different or uneven sizes in the breasts. Although uneven breasts are natural, a different size that rapidly develops should be a warning sign.

Itchy, scaly or rash on the nipple

An itchy nipple can have many causes such as eczema. However, it can also be another sign of uncommon breast cancer symptoms.

Breast pain after menopause

Although very rare, breast pain post-menopause can be one of the early signs of breast cancer. However, only 2-7% of women experience this. If you have breast pain, contact your doctor to discuss more.

If you experience 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.

Should I Worry About Dense Breast Tissue?

Breast health continues to be an important topic of women’s conversations these days. Heightened awareness of breast cancer risks and the benefits of early detection empowers women to be more proactive in protecting their health. Furthermore, having dense breast tissue or dense breasts affects the accuracy of breast cancer screenings.

What are 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.

The anatomy of the breasts consists of three components. These include lobules, ducts, and connective tissue that can be fatty or fibrous. In addition, breast density can fall under one of four categories:

  • Mostly fatty
  • Scattered fatty
  • Consistent density
  • Extremely dense

A doctor may diagnose a women with dense breasts if they contain more fibers than fat. According to Stanford Health Care, “Ten percent of U.S. women have almost entirely fatty breasts, 10 percent have extremely dense breasts, and 80 percent 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. Furthermore, you can determine if you have dense breasts by using a mammogram or x-ray. Know a dense breast tissue diagnosis does not mean a threat to your life. By understanding the risks associated with dense breasts, you can better prepare for getting them checked. Your physician may need to use different imaging techniques such as MRI to differentiate between dense tissue and tumors. By properly getting them checked, you better your chances of detecting anything unusual earlier.

You cannot prevent dense breasts. However, steps exist that you can take to lower your risk of breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Engage in physical activity on a regular basis
  • Decrease your alcohol intake
  • Obtaining from smoking

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.