Pay Attention to Your Breast Health…It’s Vitally Important!

There are things you can do to stay on top of this!

Author: Esther Sarlo, BA, Founder | CEO | Myndful Spark of Mynd Myself

Breast health is a topic that touches the lives of women everywhere. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and the second most common cancer overall.

Whether you’re a young woman just starting to navigate your breast health or a seasoned explorer of life who is seeking to deepen your understanding, this blog provides you with some practical guidance around how to take care of your breasts. Let’s sustain our breast wellbeing with love and compassion.

Some General Recommendations to Optimize Your Breast Health:

  1. Perform Regular Breast Self-Exams:
    Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts and perform monthly self-exams to detect any changes or abnormalities. If you notice any unusual lumps, changes in size or shape, or nipple discharge, consult a healthcare professional.
  2. Schedule Routine Clinical Breast Exams:
    Regularly visit your healthcare provider for clinical breast exams as part of your preventive healthcare routine. These exams can help detect any potential issues and provide early intervention if necessary.
  3. Follow Recommended Mammogram or other Testing Guidelines:
    Depending on your age and individual risk factors, follow the recommended guidelines for mammograms or other breast testing. These kinds of tests are important for early detection of breast cancer.
  4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle:
    Adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall breast health. This includes eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Regular exercise, such as brisk walking or aerobic activities, can also help maintain a healthy weight and reduce breast cancer risk.
  5. Limit Alcohol Consumption:
    happy women, mixed racesLimiting alcohol intake is advised to promote breast health. It is recommended to consume alcohol in moderation or avoid it altogether, as excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
  6. Avoid Smoking:
    Smoking has been associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including breast cancer. Quitting smoking or avoiding tobacco products altogether can significantly contribute to overall health, including breast health.
  7. Manage Hormonal Balance:
    Hormonal imbalances can impact breast health. Consult with your Healthcare Provider about maintaining hormonal balance, particularly during perimenopause or menopause. Discuss any concerns or symptoms you may experience, such as changes in menstrual cycles or menopausal symptoms.
  8. Maintain a Healthy Weight:
    Maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can also contribute to breast health. Excess weight, especially after menopause, has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Adopting healthy eating habits and engaging in regular physical activity can help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  9. Minimize Exposure to Environmental Toxins:
    Limit exposure to environmental toxins that may be harmful to breast health. This includes avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation and reducing exposure to chemicals and pollutants when possible.
  10. Stay Informed and Get Regular Check-ups:
    Stay informed about the latest research and guidelines regarding breast health. Attend routine check-ups with your healthcare provider and discuss any concerns or questions you may have about your breast health.

Keep in mind that these are general recommendations, and it’s important to consult with a Healthcare Professional for personalized advice based on your individual circumstances and risk factors.


Some Symptoms and Signs of Breast Cancer:

These can vary from person to person, but following are some common ones to be aware of:

  • Lump or thickening:
    A hard lump or thickened area in the breast or underarm is a common sign of breast cancer. It may feel different from surrounding breast tissue.
  • Changes in breast size or shape:
    Breast cancer can cause changes in breast size or shape, including swelling, shrinkage, or asymmetry.
  • Nipple changes:
    Look out for changes in the nipple, such as inversion (turned inward), retraction (pulling inward), or discharge (other than breast milk) that may be clear, bloody, or a different color.
  • Breast skin changes:
    Skin changes can include redness, puckering, dimpling, or thickening, resembling an orange peel (peau d’orange).
  • Breast pain or discomfort:
    Breast cancer is not usually accompanied by pain, but persistent breast pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away should be evaluated.
  • Swelling in the armpit or around the collarbone:
    Breast cancer can cause swelling or lumps in the lymph nodes located in the armpit or collarbone area.

breast self-exam, breast health, breast cancerIt’s important to remember that having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean a person has breast cancer, as these signs can be caused by other benign conditions as well. If you notice any unusual changes in your breasts or have concerns, it’s essential to consult with a Healthcare Professional for further evaluation and appropriate testing.

Regular breast self-exams and screenings can help detect breast cancer at an early stage when treatment outcomes are generally better.

Some Common Risk Factors Associated with Breast Cancer:

  1. Age: The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age, especially after the age of 50. Most breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 50.
  2. Gender: Breast cancer primarily affects women, although men can also develop it (much rarer).
  3. Family history and genetics: Having a first-degree relative (such as a mother, sister, or aunt) with breast cancer increases the risk. Inherited gene mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, also elevate the risk.
  4. Personal history of breast cancer or certain benign breast conditions: Having had breast cancer in one breast increases the risk of developing it in the other breast. Certain non-cancerous breast conditions, such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), also raise the risk. 
  5. Hormonal factors: Prolonged exposure to estrogen due to early menstruation (before age 12) or late menopause (after age 55), as well as the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for an extended duration, can increase the risk.
  6. Reproductive history: Women who have never given birth or had their first child after the age of 30 have a slightly higher risk. Having multiple pregnancies and breastfeeding can have a protective effect.
  7. Dense breast tissue: Women with dense breast tissue have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
  8. Lifestyle factors: Factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, being overweight or obese (especially after menopause), and lack of physical activity can increase the risk.
  9. Radiation exposure: Previous radiation treatment to the chest area, especially during adolescence, increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop breast cancer, as many people without any known risk factors can still develop the disease.

Regular breast screenings, self-exams, and consulting with Healthcare Professionals can help assess individual risk and develop appropriate monitoring and prevention strategies.

Common Western/Conventional Medicine Approaches for Breast Health

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE):
This is a physical examination of the breasts performed by a Healthcare Provider to check for any abnormalities or changes.

A mammogram is a type of X-ray imaging specifically used to screen for breast cancer or to diagnose breast abnormalities. It involves compressing the breast between two plates to obtain detailed images of the breast tissue.

Mammograms are reported to help detect breast cancer at an early stage, even before a lump or other symptoms are noticeable. They can identify small calcifications or tumors that may not be felt during a physical examination.

There are two types of mammograms:mamogram, breast health, breast cancer

  • Screening mammogram:
    This is the most common type and is used for routine breast cancer screening in women without any specific breast concerns. It involves taking X-ray images of both breasts to detect any potential abnormalities.
  • Diagnostic mammogram:
    This type is performed when there is a suspicion of breast cancer or if there are abnormal findings on a screening mammogram. It involves additional imaging views and sometimes targeted images of specific areas of concern.

Mammograms can be uncomfortable or slightly painful due to the compression of the breasts, but the discomfort is usually brief. The results of a mammogram are typically evaluated by radiologists who specialize in breast imaging. If any abnormalities are detected, further diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound or biopsy, may be recommended to determine the nature of the findings.

Breast Ultrasound:
This imaging test uses sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. It can help determine if a breast lump is solid or filled with fluid (cyst).

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): 
MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the breast. It is usually recommended for women at high risk of breast cancer or to evaluate suspicious findings from other tests.

General Western/Conventional Guidelines

In Canada, the guidelines for mammogram screening frequency and age recommendations vary slightly among different provinces and territories. However, there are general guidelines provided by national and provincial health organizations. Here is an overview:

Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC):
The CTFPHC provides recommendations based on an individual’s risk profile. They recommend the following for women at average risk of breast cancer:

  • Ages 40-49:
    The decision to undergo mammography screening should be an individual one, based on discussions with a healthcare provider. The CTFPHC suggests that women in this age group should consider their personal values and preferences, along with the potential benefits and harms of screening.
  • Ages 50-74:
    Women in this age range are recommended to undergo mammography screening every 2 to 3 years.
  • Age 75 and older:
    The CTFPHC states that there is limited evidence to support the benefits of mammography screening for women in this age group, and the decision should be individualized based on the woman’s health status, life expectancy, and personal values.

It’s important to note that these are general recommendations, and individual factors and preferences should be taken into account when making decisions about screening. Please consult the specific guidelines provided by your provincial or territorial health authority for the most accurate and up-to-date information applicable to your region.


Complementary Healthcare Approaches for Breast Health

There are several other tests and Complementary Healthcare approaches that women can consider for breast health. Following are a few:

Breast Self-Exam (BSE): breast health
breast self-exam, breast healthIt is HIGHLY recommended that women perform regular breast self-exams to become familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts. This can help in detecting any changes or abnormalities that may require further evaluation.

Here is a helpful 3 minute video from The City of Hope and the Pink Patch Project on how to do a breast self-exam.

Breast self-awareness and overall breast health involves being familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts, noticing any changes, and promptly reporting them to a Healthcare Provider. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise, a nutritious and balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding tobacco is also an important component of breast health.

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE):
This is a physical examination of the breasts performed by a Healthcare Provider to check for any abnormalities or changes.

This is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that uses infrared cameras to detect and measure heat patterns in the breasts. It is sometimes used as a complementary approach to detect early changes in breast tissue, and is often referred to as “thermal imaging.”

Here are a few aspects of thermography and why it is considered by some to be beneficial:

  1. Non-invasive and Radiation-free:
    Thermography does not involve any radiation exposure, making it a non-invasive and painless procedure. It uses infrared technology to capture images, eliminating the need for physical contact or compression of the breasts.
  2. Early Detection Potential:
    Advocates of thermography argue that it may have the potential to detect early physiological changes in breast tissue. The idea is that cancerous or abnormal cells may have different heat signatures compared to surrounding healthy tissue, which can be detected by thermal imaging.
  3. Risk Stratification:
    Thermography is sometimes used as part of a comprehensive breast health evaluation to provide additional information for risk stratification. It may help identify women who may require further investigation or more frequent screening due to abnormal thermal patterns.
  4. Monitoring Over Time:
    Thermography can be used to monitor changes in thermal patterns over time. Regular thermographic screenings may help identify any significant changes that could warrant further investigation or intervention.
  5. No Compression or Radiation Anxiety:
    Some individuals may prefer thermography over mammography because it does not involve breast compression, which can cause discomfort for some. Additionally, for individuals who may have anxiety related to radiation exposure, thermography offers a radiation-free alternative.

Any abnormal findings on thermography would typically require follow-up with more established diagnostic methods, such as mammograms or biopsies.

Counseling and Support:
If you suspect you may have breast issues it can also be a good idea to seek emotional support, counseling, or join support groups to help manage any stress, anxiety, and emotions related to your breast health.

It’s essential to consult with a Healthcare Provider to determine which tests and approaches are most appropriate based on individual risk factors, age, and medical history.

Regular breast self-exams, clinical breast exams, and discussions with healthcare providers are key components of maintaining breast health.

DISCLAIMER: All of the information provided in this blog is provided by Mynd Myself for your general knowledge only. All the blog Information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your Physician or other Qualified Healthcare Provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition… READ MORE

Share this post on social media:

breast health, breast exam, breast cancer

Related Content:

Health Issues
Jennifer Robertson

Love Your Liver

Podcast Episode #: 41 Why do you need to love your liver? Interview with: Sherien Hossny, Wellbeing Guide, Yoga Teacher, CPT,

Read More »