If you’ve got breasts, there’s a good chance you think about them at least once a day—after all, they’re attached to you. But it’s probably only in passing, like when you’re getting dressed or undressed or when it’s time for your annual mammogram. (Speaking of that annual mammogram, yours is completed or scheduled, right?)
But how often do you really consider the best ways to keep your breasts healthy? If it’s not something you’ve thought much about recently, we’re here to help. We researched all the best advice and distilled it into the five tips below. All you have to do is read them.
While research hasn’t told us everything about the relationship between obesity and breast cancer, we know there is one. Studies show that some types of breast cancer are affected by estrogen and because obese women tend to have more of it in their fat tissue after menopause, keeping your weight in a healthy range reduces your risk. We recommend trying to keep your body mass index (BMI) below 30.
Eat healthy foods and drink lots of water
In the same spirit, eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more water—about three liters a day is the recommendation for women—will help you reduce your cancer risk and control your weight. You simply can’t get too much of those good things and, while you’re increasing your intake, consider green, leafy veggies like kale, spinach, and mustard greens and other less-leafy greens like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, all known for their cancer-fighting power. Citrus fruits, apples, and berries are great choices, too.
When it comes to proteins, look for foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids like nuts, fish, and soybeans.
Get your workouts in
Research shows that physically active women are less likely to develop breast cancer. That makes sense because people who exercise are less likely to develop obesity (see above) and working out helps support your immune system.
The good news is, it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you develop a regular routine. Walking, running, yoga, and Pilates are all good choices. So is weight-bearing exercise, which increases your bone mass and offers the added benefit of reducing the risks of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Don’t smoke or drink too much
A few drinks a week is OK, but your cancer risk goes up with the amount of alcohol you regularly consume. This stands to reason because increased beer, wine, and liquor consumption are also associated with weight gain and increased levels of estrogen, which is linked with some types of breast cancers. But we’re not here to be too judgy if you like your cocktails—just try to keep it to three or fewer drinks a week.
Smoking is something else altogether. You’ve probably already heard about how smoking increases your cancer risks, and it’s true. On a more positive note, quitting smoking reduces the risks. So one of the best things you can do is commit to stopping. And if you need extra help, check out our smoking cessation classes.
Get a mammogram
This reminder may be last on our list, but it’s far from the least. Mammograms play a key role in early breast cancer detection and help reduce deaths from the disease, so determining when to schedule yours—if you haven’t already—is vital to your breast health. The best way is to consult your doctor, but a good rule of thumb is to get an annual screening if you have a history of breast cancer in your family or you’re over 45.
As you’re considering these tips for improving your breast health, you might be thinking they’re the same things people do to maintain good general health. You’re right. The fringe benefit to focusing on your breast health is that you’ll also wind up improving your overall wellness and happiness!