Breast cancer is a major concern for not only women, but for men as well, especially as we age. How can you be proactive with your breast health? Read more to find out how to keep your breasts healthy and screen for breast cancer with our top 10 tips for breast health.
1. Know Your Breasts
Discovering problems early is your best defense in fighting breast cancer. Know your baseline, and notice changes in your breast tissue.
Know your breasts- if there are any changes such as lumps, leaky fluid, swelling, skin irritation, or nipple problems, contact your healthcare provider right away.
Clinical Breast Exams
Your annual or biannual health exam should include a clinical breast exam to ensure the health of your breasts.
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of your breasts. Most providers recommend mammograms every two years, starting at age 45. Talk to your healthcare provider about their recommendation for you based on your personal risk factors. Contact Hudson Imaging today to make your baseline appointment.
It may be difficult to perform a mammogram on a man because there may not be enough breast tissue to see a clear image. If there is a concern for the tissue to be tested, other options are an ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create images, or a biopsy of the breast tissue. During a biopsy, a specialized needle is used to extract a sample of tissue to be tested.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
There is a correlation between weight gain and increased production of estrogen. When your weight increases, so does the amount of estrogen in your body. An increased amount of estrogen can stimulate the growth of cancer cells, and therefore the progression of cancer. A healthy weight will help keep estrogen production under control, preventing or slowing down the progression of cancer.
Exercise keeps our bones and muscles stronger. It can improve bone mass, which is crucial to someone who has been through chemotherapy and/or endocrine therapy. Using these medications tends to affect bone density, so exercise is a way to keep your bones stronger, and decrease osteoporosis as well.
4. Eat a Balanced Diet
Keep your body nourished with five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Foods like broccoli, watermelon, kale, and whole grains are cancer-fighting foods. To boost your omega-3 fatty acids, foods like walnuts, fish oil, and pumpkin seeds will do the trick. Avoid foods with refined sugars and fat, as they feed cancer cells, will make you feel sluggish, and pack on the pounds.
Good nutrition can help prevent a multitude of cancers, including breast cancer, and can slow or prevent the progression or recurrence of the disease.
If you need help, your family doctor or a dietician can help you with a meal plan. Sometimes we need a little support and expertise from someone to help us with nutrition goals.
5. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water helps with so many aspects of our health. Try to drink two to three liters (8-12 cups) of water daily.
6. Limit Alcohol Intake
People who drink more than one alcoholic drink per day are at an increased risk for breast cancer. If you have three or more drinks per week after being diagnosed with cancer, your risk of the cancer returning is more likely. Keep your alcohol intake to no more than one alcoholic drink per day. One serving of alcohol is defined as five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or one and a half ounces of hard liquor.
8. Take Your Vitamins
Vitamin D is by far the most recommended supplement to take for breast health. It is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because we naturally get lots of vitamin D from the sun. We also absorb some vitamin D from the foods we eat. However, in cloudier months it is important to take a supplement of Vitamin D3. In addition, Vitamin K2 is recommended to take in conjunction with D3 because it helps your bones absorb the Vitamin D3.
Probiotics are the healthy microbes that populate the entire body. There are trillions of them in our bodies, including breast tissue. Imbalances in the bacteria in our bodies can cause inflammation, affect metabolism, and affect the way our bodies metabolize estrogen and toxins. Probiotics can provide healthy balance by providing good bacteria in the body.
Those who have consumed an above average amount of antibiotics in their lifetime can be affected by the consequences. Increased use of antibiotics has been associated with various cancers, including breast cancer. Probiotics can help increase the healthy bacteria in your body and counter the adverse-effects of antibiotics on the body.
8. Avoid Self-Care Products With Harmful Chemicals
What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. Your skin absorbs everything you expose it to. Toxins like BPA, triclosan, talc, parabens, and formaldehyde can be found in skin care products. Check the labels carefully when purchasing new products and make sure you aren’t exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. These chemicals can be found in deodorant, lotion, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and makeup products. Instead, choose products that are free from harmful chemicals.
9. Breastfeed, if Possible
Women who have breastfed for a year or more over their lifetime have a decreased risk of being diagnosed with or dying from breast cancer. Breastfeeding is also known to protect against ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Talk to your OB/GYN, your physician, or lactation consultant to learn more and to find support if you are having difficulties with breastfeeding.
10. Avoid Tobacco
One of the best things you can do for your health is to avoid tobacco, including exposure to secondhand smoke. A link has been made between smoking and developing breast cancer, in particular with premenopausal women.
Our hope is you feel more empowered after reading this article. There are concrete steps you can take to keep your breasts healthier, and at the same time improve your overall health. Don’t wait for tomorrow; start today. Sign up to get a monthly email reminder and get a screening scheduled.
Contact Hudson Imaging to request an appointment.