To do a breast self-exam or not to do a breast self-exam? During Breast Cancer Awareness Month that, especially, is the question.
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear cut. Medical professionals, insurance companies, and even research results are very torn on the issue breast self-exams (BSE). For half a century, women were encouraged to perform a home breast exam once a month, faithfully feeling for changes and abnormalities. Pamphlets were handed out. Videos were shown. Hands-on instruction was even given.
Yet, research suggests all that time women spent diligently kneading away may not actually have saved lives.
Why Skip the Self-Breast Exam?
A 2006 study released by the Journal of Cancer Education found self-breast exams lead to more unnecessary diagnostic mammograms. And, breast self-exams “did not show any advantages with respect to tumor outcomes.”
In 2009, the U.S. Prevention Service Task Force built upon this study, advising against breast self-exams. It cited evidence that suggested home exams not only don’t reduce breast cancer deaths, but cause false alarms, unnecessary procedures, and additional worry.
What Should You Do Instead of a Self-Breast Exam?
When it comes to your health, one of the most essential elements is always to always be aware of and listening to your body. How’s it feeling? How has it changed? Instead of simply looking for lumps, shift your focus to knowing how your breasts typically feel and look. This allows you to recognize when there’s a difference so you can talk with your health care provider about it.
Can You Still Do a BSE if You Want?
Definitely. There’s nothing keeping you from checking out your breasts. Do what makes you most comfortable. The key for all women, is to notify their healthcare provider if they notice any changes. This can include:
- Nipple Discharge
- Nipple Inversion
- Puckering of the Skin
- Sore Nipples
- New Pain Spots that Persist
- New Lines of Marks
- Any New Thickening of Lumpy Spots
Natural Breast Cancer Prevention
Natural breast cancer prevention begins with a healthy lifestyle. Making smart choices isn’t a guarantee, but it can certainly lower your risk. Those choices include:
- Limiting Alcohol. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, consuming just one alcoholic beverage a day increases the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer by 5% and post-menopausal breast cancer by 9%.
- Don’t Smoke. It’s a well-known fact smoking’s bad for your overall health. In the case of breast cancer, a recently released study shows that smoking increases the likelihood of breast cancer by 30%.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight. Being overweight isn’t just hard on your heart and your joints, it could put you at higher risk of breast cancer. At the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium a study was explored that showed the direct correlation between excess weight and breast cancer.
- Lead an Active Lifestyle. Being physically active not only helps you keep your weight under control, it promotes a healthy heart and strong immune system. Additionally, it helps flush harmful toxins out of your body.
- Drink Plenty of Water. Water is a natural way to help your body detox and keep your immune system functioning. By drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, you can help your body shed any toxins absorbed from everyday activities.
Natural Breast Cancer Support & Treatment
Whether it’s you or a loved one, battling breast cancer is scary. Anytime you have a question or concern, it’s strongly recommend you contact your medical professional. No question is too small. No worry is insignificant.
At Tru Health we have doctors who specialize in a range of fields including general medicine and naturopathic oncology. If you have a concern, we are here to help.
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Naturopathic health care with compassionate integrative doctors who understand your unique medical needs.