10 ways to improve your breast health – BlueRidgeNow.com

Hendersonville Times-News

As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October,now is an idealtime to consider your breast health.While not all breast cancercasesare preventable, there are many ways you can reduce your risk and improveyourhealth.

1. Know your family history.If your mother, sister,daughter,aunt or grandmotherhas hadbreast cancer, talk to your primary care provider or gynecologist about your risk factors.They may recommend genetic testing to see if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which can increase your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other forms of cancer.

2.Talk toyour provider about any medications you take.Taking hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives (birth control pills) may affect your breast cancer risk.Talk to your provider about the benefits and risks of taking these medications.

3.Maintain a healthy weight.Postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of breast cancer. Find out if youre in a healthy range byusing a body mass index (BMI) calculator online or ask your health care provider.

4.Exercise regularly.Youve heard this advicebeforeand Illrepeat ithere: Regular physical activity isessential forgood overall health and breast health. Studies show that women who exercise regularly have a10 to 20%lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who dont exercise.Exercise is especially important if youre postmenopausal.

5.Breastfeed ifpossible.Ifyoure a new mom or currently expecting, breastfeedingyour babymay reduce your risk of breast cancer.

6.Eat a nutritious diet.Eat plenty of fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit, healthy fats (like olive oil, avocadoes, nuts and seeds),lean protein (such as chicken, fish, eggs and beans) andwhole grains. Limit or avoid red meat, processed meat, sweetened beverages, and highly processed foods (such as fastfood, frozen meals, candy and chips).

7.Limit or avoid alcohol.Studies have shown a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer.Women whodrinktwo to three servings of alcohol per day havea 20% higher risk of breast cancerthanwomen who dont drink.Additionally, an analysis of 53 studies found that breast cancer risk increased by about 7% percent for each alcoholic beverage a woman consumed per day.Women who choose to drink alcohol should limit their serving to no more than one drink per day.

8.Dontsmoke.Smoking may increase your risk ofbreast cancer, so quit if you currently smoke. If you have trouble quitting, ask your primary care provider for help.

9.Listen to your body.Pay attention to new or unusual symptomsin your breasts and nipples, such aspain,swelling,a lump,discharge,dimpling, irritation, red or flaky skin, or changes in size or shape. Contact your health care provider right away if you experience any of these symptoms.While they arent alwayssignsof breast cancer,its best to see your provider to know for sure.

10.Get mammograms as recommended.Mammogram screening guidelines vary, so ask your primary care provideror gynecologistwhen its right for you to get screened.We generally recommend women 40 and over have annual, screening mammograms.Early detection is important: When breast cancer is found earlier, it is often easier to treat and may require less aggressivetherapies.

To schedule an appointment at the Elizabeth Reilly Breast Center at Pardee Hospital call (828) 698-7979.

If you have questions about yourbreasthealth, talk to your primary care provideror gynecologist.To find a provider near you, visitwww.pardeehospital.org.

Dr. Jennifer McAlisteris a board-certified and fellowship-trained breast surgeon and sees patients at Pardee Breast Surgery.

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10 ways to improve your breast health - BlueRidgeNow.com

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