Fall in love with YOUR BREASTS

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Reduce your breast cancer risk by taking care of your breasts with the following tips.

Breast cancer occurrence is on the increase but the good news is that if detected early it can be cured. There are many breast cancer survivors today because of early detection methods and advances in treatment and care. The best defense against death from breast cancer is early detection and you owe it to yourself to take care of your breasts. Our advice is you fall in love with your breasts as doing so you will keep in touch with them, just like you do with those you love. Here is the latest on how to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

DIET AND VITAMINS

Increase your intake of vitamin D. Research at the University of California, US, found women with the highest levels of vitamin D – made from exposure to sunlight – had a 50 percent reduced risk of breast cancer. Scientists recommend sun exposure for at least 15 minutes a day. You can top up vitamin D by eating oily fish such as salmon and dairy products such as yoghurt.

Increase fruit and vegetables intake. Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that help protect against cancers. Ensure you get at least five portions a day.

Reduce alcohol intake. Excessive drinking of alcohol increases your risk of breast cancer. Cut out alcohol completely and if you cannot, leave it at a social level (one small glass) and not a daily affair. Also, avoid binge drinking.

Limit red meat. A study at the University of Leeds, UK, found that eating two ounces of red meat a day could double a post-menopausal woman’s risk of breast cancer and younger women increase their risk slightly. Cancer researchers suggest limiting red meat to twice a week and even then, taking very small portions and removing all fat.

EXERCISE AND LIFESTYLE

Lose extra pounds. After menopause, body fat becomes the main source of the hormone oestrogen, excess levels of which are linked to some forms of breast cancers. Obese women have 50 to 100 percent more oestrogen than women of healthy weight.

Get active. Several studies have found exercise can lower your risk of breast cancer. Doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week could cut your breast cancer risk.

Replace your deodorant. While the jury is still out on the case of chemicals used in antiperspirants causing breast tumors, if you have a family history of breast cancer, try alternative natural methods of controlling underarm body sweat.

Quit smoking. Women who have smoked for 11 years or more could have a 40 percent increased risk of breast cancer, according to a US study.

YOUR GENES

Know your risk. You are considered to have a genetic risk if several close relatives have had breast cancer, especially before the age of 50. Only about five percent of breast cancers are thought to be inherited. If you have family history, you need to take extra measures to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Go for screening. Ensure you get regular breast screenings, which include physical checks by a doctor, mammography and ultra sound scans. Discuss with your doctor how often you should have these done, but for post-menopausal women, these tests are a must, at least every two years.

SELF-BREAST EXAMINATION

Ensure you examine your breasts regularly for lumps and other irregularities such as retracted nipples or discharge from the nipple. Touch and look at your breasts regularly so you get to know what’s normal. Feel all around your breasts and up into your armpits – you are checking for any lumps or thickening. If there is a rash, discharge, skin puckering, change in size or shape, or anything else that is unusual, see a doctor without delay. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of survival.

Published in January 2012

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