Breast to most women is more than just another part of the human body, it symbolises femininity and boost ones self-esteem. I think most of us girls can agree, when you’re in your early 20s, breast might not be your main concern. Most women only develop an intimate relationship with their breasts later in life, when they breastfeed their children or reach an age where they begin to screen for breast cancer. In fact many have come to equate breast cancer screening with breast health.
Dr. Ng Char Hong, Consultant Breast Surgeon, Breast Care Centre of Excellence, Sunway Medical Centre shared about the important components of breast health education and awareness which includes keeping fit, eating right, being properly fitted for a bra and putting it on correctly, the use of the right contraceptives for each woman, and management of a host of physiological issues, beyond breast cancer, at every stage of a woman’s life.
In your 20s – The habits you develop now can help reduce your lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
Get a clinical breast exam and become breast aware. A clinical breast exam is a physical breast exam performed by a medical professional. During your 20s, a clinical breast exam and discussion about your overall health and personal risk factors is a good way to take stock of what’s “normal” for you. Do clinical breast exams yearly in your 20s and 30s. Perform monthly breast self-exams to be familiar with your breasts so that you will notice any small changes which you’ll want to bring to the attention of your doctor.
Find out if you are high risk. If breast cancer runs in your family, you’ll want to discuss with your doctor a personal plan for understanding your risk. For example, you may want to consider being tested for the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 gene mutations, which are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
New moms should breastfeed for at least six months. Some studies suggest that breastfeeding may slightly lower breast cancer risk, specifically for women who breast feed for one and a half to two years. A study released by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center showed breastfeeding six months or longer reduced breast cancer risk by 20 percent.
Exercise and eat right! Exercising at least 30 minutes per day, whether it’s by walking, biking, jogging, dancing or any other physical activity can reduce your breast cancer risk by about 20 percent. Plus, it’s a habit that is good for your bones, joints, heart and overall health. Eating healthy means limiting your intake of red meat to four ounces per day on average and avoiding processed meat.