Heart to Heart Breast Talk

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.

 breastfeeding reduces but doesn't eliminate breast cancer risk

Keep A BreastBamboobies 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.

Getting Started

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.

Check Yourself AppFor more information on how to perform your exam visit Keep a Breast Foundation and download the check yourself app or print out the check yourself card.

5 easy steps

Visit the Keep a Breast Foundation online store  https://shop.keep-a-breast.org/





  1. Shannon Williams says

    I did not know that breast cancer accounts for nearly 1 in 3 cancers.

  2. I learned that breast cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in women after skin cancer! Wow!

  3. Phthalates are everywhere. It’s such a challenge to be safe!

  4. Beth Z. Patt says

    I didn’t know that breast cancer in younger women could be more aggressive.

  5. Jill shank says

    Thankful breast feeding reduces the risk, but it does not eliminate it. Continue to monitor your body!

  6. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for younger women, as obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer.

  7. This just makes me want to purge all plastics! I already wanted to! My husband would think I’m am nuts though. Thank you for the article. I have found myself slipping into the thought that if I nurse long enough I don’t have to fear any more; and while I shouldn’t fear, I need to stay vigilant!

  8. Helen Nash says

    I learned that breast cancer in younger women can be more aggresive.

  9. This is the part that’s shocking to me… “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…” It makes total sense though!

  10. I never knew that younger women have a harder time fighting breast cancer!

  11. I didn’t know you had to wait for your breasts to be empty to do a self exam while nursing

  12. My paternal grandmother was also a breast cancer survivor, as is a maternal aunt. I check myself often, maybe even more so now that I’m breastfeeding. I didn’t know that it’s often more fatal for younger women. Scary.

  13. I’m glad to know breastfeeding helps elimate breast cancer.

  14. Jess adree says

    Some great suggestions. I really like the suggestion for natural cleaning methods. Bleach is so harmful to the environment as well.

  15. I did not know that avoiding bleach could make a difference

  16. I didnt know breastfeeding help avoid breast cancer

  17. Heather Wilson says

    I love that breastfeeding is good for me and for my babies! it can’t get any better than that!!

  18. Charissa Kelly says

    Thank you for this article! It was nice to see that some changes I’ve made in my diet and life are beneficial to preventing breast cancer as well. I wasn’t aware of the 1 in 8 odds, scary!

  19. Christine Adams says

    Today, about 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.

  20. I didn’t know you could do an accurate breast exam while breastfeeding because of the lumpy nature of lactating breasts.

  21. Great article spreading the word about breast cancer. Both my sisters had breast cancer and are now in remission. Great article!

  22. Dana Clemmons says

    I didn’t know you could still do a self – exam while nursing!

  23. Alicia Merlino says

    I was shocked that breast cancer is more aggressive in younger women.

  24. Interesting to know that self-exams are still do-able while nursing!

  25. Nadia Sloan says

    with all the knowledge about plastic toxicity it’s amazing that the government hasn’t regulated that better.

  26. Great information! I didn’t realize that women diagnosed under 40 were at a higher risk for more aggressive cancer. Early detection is so important!

  27. Allison McCloskey says

    Thank you for the encouragement to continue self exams while nursing!

  28. Ashlee merrett says

    Very informative! !:) I didnt realize that for young people obesity and toxicity are the top causes for extra estrogen which can lead to breast cancer! Time to get rid of some plastic and check my cleaning supplies! Thanks for the great article! 🙂

  29. I was unaware that my breasts needed to be empty when doing a self exam…although it makes sense. I also did not realized that breastfeeding helps to lower the risk of getting breast cancer. Thank you for the information!

  30. Katie Hoffman says

    I wasn’t aware that obesity increased risk of breast cancer because of the extra estrogen.

  31. Alexandria says

    I was surprised to learn how prevalent breast cancer is (1 in EIGHT!) and that younger women are more likely to die from this horrible disease! Thanks for the education!

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