Ask the doctor: How do I maintain healthy breasts?

Q. I hear about so many cases of breast problems in my neighborhood. What can I do to keep my breasts healthy?

healthy breasts 300x199 Ask the doctor: How do I maintain healthy breasts? PhotoA. This is a timely question with Breast Awareness Month in October. There are 6 simple steps that you can actively take to maintain healthy breasts.


1. Give Yourself Breast Examinations. Be familiar with your own breasts by doing self-examinations once each month. This is the most important step that you can take. If you find any lumps or skin changes that you hadn’t noticed before, seek out a medical consultation. Did you know that women doing regular breast self-exams discover 40 percent of breast cancers?

Have a yearly examination by your physician with breast exams. Get a baseline mammography if you are 40 – and have them done on a regular basis. Finding breast cancer early may enable breast-conserving options with no further treatments.


2. Ditch Hormone Therapy. If you are considering hormone therapy for symptoms related to menopause, you may want to explore other options (e.g. supplements). Likewise, if you are currently on hormones, discuss other non-hormonal therapies with your physician to manage your menopausal issues. Long-term combination hormone protocols increase your risk of breast cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.


3. Drink in Moderation. Studies done by the Mayo Clinic reveal that there is a direct correlation between alcohol and breast cancer. The risk for developing breast cancer increases proportionately with the amount of alcohol you drink. Limit your intake to only one glass per day.


4. Avoid Pollution When Possible. Research done at the Mayo Clinic demonstrates an association between cancer of the breast and exposure to air pollution and toxins like the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from car exhaust. Try to restrict exposure to these and most chemicals if possible.


5. Do Exercise – Especially Strength Training. Most experts agree that obesity or being overweight is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, especially when it occurs after menopause. A healthy diet will keep your breasts – and the rest of your body – in good shape.

Strength training is also a good idea to add to your exercise program. By strengthening the back muscles, you can avoid the appearance of having your breasts touch your navel while avoiding poor posture.


6. Invest in a Good Bra. This may seem obvious but you would be surprised at the number of people that are walking around with bras selected for appealing color or fashion that were never fit, are the wrong size or the wrong style.

As a person ages, the amount of fat in your breasts increases and can cause sagging. Getting professional measurements for the proper bra will support and lift the breasts.

Add sports bras to your drawer of undergarments. Wear a tighter bra or one with built in support during exercise routines that involve running, spinning or bouncing activities. If your breasts bounce when you do, droopy breasts are in your future.


If you follow these steps, you can feel confident that you will maintain healthy, perky breasts for years to come.