Breasts are part of our female identity, which may be why, for most of us, having breast cancer is one of our biggest fears. The good news is, today, women have more control over the disease and fewer women get breast cancer, while even fewer die from it.
Everything we do in our day-to-day lives - from what we eat and drink to whether or not we exercise – are factors that can control the genetic switches in our bodies, especially the ones that could lead to cancer. You won't eliminate risk altogether, but every day, there are new ways to improve your risk. Here are some of them.
Trace your dad's family history, not just your mom's.
About 5 to 10% of breast cancer is hereditary. That’s why it’s important to understand that your father's family counts as much as your mother's. You may be aware of the medical history of first-degree relatives such as your parents, brothers and sisters. But to get a complete assessment, it is vital that you look into second and third degree relatives like your aunts, uncles, cousins and great-grandparents as well.
Know the density of your breasts.
This is one of the latest methods to protect from breast cancer. Find out how dense your breasts are, because having dense breasts makes your risk higher by up to 6 times. So, if you have more tissue than fat in your breasts, it makes it harder to detect cancer on a mammogram. This is because fat looks darker, while breast tissue and tumours show up white, especially in younger women. Next time you go for a mammogram, ask your doctor whether your breasts are dense. But remember, even if your density is low, you still need regular checkups.
Yes, breast is best for moms, too.
According to a recent study, women who breast-feed for the first 6 months after delivery have a 10% reduced risk of death from cancer. This is because women don't menstruate while breast-feeding. It limits the number of cycles she has over a lifetime, which in turn lowers the quantity of estrogen her body is exposed to.
Detect it early, save your life.
When breast cancer is caught early, the diagnosis is often good. First and most importantly, be familiar with how your breasts feel normally. So that if you find any changes in appearance or texture, you can consult your doctor immediately. Also, always inform your doctor if you find any bleeding or crusting on the nipples, along with any pain. On the other hand, if you're of average risk with no family history, you should have a mammogram every year, starting at age 40. Speak with your doctor to determine the best plan for you.