by Jessica Martin-Weber and Kerry Gilmartin
This post was made possible through the generous sponsorship of Bamboobies.
As breastfeeding supporters when it comes to talking about breast cancer it is easy for us to get caught up in talking about how breastfeeding can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It’s true that statistically speaking breastfeeding can lower your chance of breast cancer, but it isn’t a be all- end all type of prevention, just one piece. The reality is that breastfeeding your baby (or babies) doesn’t mean you get to dismiss the possibility of breast cancer forever, there is still a risk. The good news is that breastfeeding along with other measures can help reduce your risk and education and support can better support those that do develop breast cancer.
Related post: Reduced Risk Doesn’t Mean No Risk
My paternal grandmother is a survivor of breast cancer. A kind, giving woman with a gentle soul, early detection and aggressive treatment meant she lost her breasts but kept her life. I’m so grateful for the treatments available to fight this threatening disease, without them I wouldn’t have known my grandmother. I will never forget when I was young and she showed me her double mastectomy scars and told me her story. The impact of her experience taught me a lot but it was her gentle warning to take care of myself and to regularly check my own breasts that has continued to ring in my ears. Like my grandmother, I want to be here for my children for a long time still, I’m not about to bank on one risk reducing factor. Instead, I want to be informed and do everything I can to protect my health.
So, aside from breastfeeding, what else can you do to lower your risk of breast cancer? And how can you raise your chances of surviving should you develop breast cancer? We’ve pulled together some simple, accessible tips to get you started. Awareness alone won’t change anything, education and action steps are required to make a difference.
Bamboobies donates a portion of all online sales to the Keep A Breast Foundation to support their efforts in promoting awareness, self-checking and prevention of breast cancer.
Know the facts
Breast cancer is an extremely prevalent disease and it is crucial to know the facts, learn about prevention, and perform monthly exams.
- Besides skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among American women. It accounts for nearly 1 in 3 cases of cancers.
- Today, about 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths among American women.
- The chance that a breast cancer patient will be alive five years after diagnosis is lower in women under 40. Statistics indicate that tumors diagnosed in younger women may be more aggressive and less responsive to treatment, making early detection key.
Aging, genetics, race, breast tissue, and menstrual periods are all factors that cannot be changed, however, leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding common toxins that are linked to cancer, and making smart diet choices are all ways in which you can decrease your risk for breast cancer.
Being aware of what you put in as well as on your body are preventative tactics that you are in control of. Knowledge is key, read the labels of the products you buy and when possible avoid products containing, PARABENS, PHTHALATES, 1,4-DIOXANE, NITROSAMINES, HEAVY METALS. Also, make conscious decisions about cleaning supplies you use in your home. Avoid bleach and stick to these alternatives lemon, baking soda and vinegar when cleaning. Lastly, avoid plastic whenever possible as it can slowly leak chemicals into whatever it touches i.e plastic food storage containers, and plastic water bottles.
In young people, obesity and toxicity are the most prevalent reasons for excess estrogen making it crucial to maintain a healthy body weight. Make healthy choices when choosing the food you put into your body and learn about the fruits and vegetables that are part of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 lists. Avoiding pesticides and choosing certified organic produce, when possible, will reduce the likelihood that you will be exposed to dangerous chemicals and hormones.
Early detection is KEY making it extremely important to perform monthly exams, know your body and your breast. Becoming familiar with your breast will help you determine what is “normal” for your body. You can check yourself in 5 easy steps, beginning with a visual exam. When performing your exam, ask yourself these questions …
- Do my breasts look the same?
- Are my nipples the same shape?
- Are there any indentions, bruises or bulges?
- Is there any discharge coming from my nipples? Are the veins more noticeable on one breast than the other?
It is necessary to note that if you notice any changes you should visit your doctor right away.
*Keep in mind that lactating breasts are usually more dense and prone to lumps from milk than an empty breast. Breast self-exams are still beneficial, try to do them when your breasts are empty.
Visit the Keep a Breast Foundation online store https://shop.keep-a-breast.org/