Living » Ask the Experts at East Jefferson General Hospital

What can I do to maintain good breast health?

Between getting the kids to dance and soccer, playing bumper carts at the grocery store and staying late at the office, it can be easy to forget that there is one more person you need to take care of: you! Taking good care of your health is one of most valuable things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. One way to do that is to spend some time on breast health.

Here are some tips on keeping up with your breast health:

1. Invest in a properly fitted bra with adequate support. Some under wire bras or bras that fit too tightly can pinch or rub, which can irritate the skin and breast tissue and lead to pain. Bras that are ill fitting and especially bras that are too tight can also cause shoulder, neck and back pain.

2. If you suffer from breast pain, reducing caffeine intake could help. Excessive caffeine can also affect hormone levels, potentially causing painful breast cysts.

3. Sooth breast pain by taking daily vitamin E supplements and evening primrose oil. While study results are conflicting as to whether or not these alternative medicine remedies are effective, many women have experienced relief from breast pain using them. Always consult your physician before starting supplements, as some may interact with your prescription medications.

4. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight. Regular exercise can improve overall health, and decrease body weight, thereby possibly decreasing a woman’s risk for breast cancer.

5. Limit alcohol and fat intake. Some studies show that alcohol intake and obesity can lead to increases in the risk of breast cancer. To be on the safe side, it is recommended that women limit their alcohol to one drink a day, and eat a low fat diet.

6. Perform a monthly breast self-exam and contact your doctor if you notice any new or enlarging lumps, nipple discharge, or nipple inversion.

7. Have a yearly mammogram if you are 40 years or older. Annual mammograms after the age of 40 play an important role in the early detection of breast cancer. After 40, a woman’s likelihood of developing breast cancer increases, especially if she has a family history of breast cancer. The decision to get a mammogram is a personal one that everyone should make based on their medical history, advice form their physician, and understanding of the important role mammograms play in breast cancer prevention.

If you have any questions about these tips or any other breast issues, please call the East Jefferson General Hospital Breast Care Center at 504-883-8989. To find a doctor that is right for you, call HealthFinder at 504-456-5000.

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