Experts answer questions about breast health

Health
A patient gets a mammogram.

A patient gets a mammogram.

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When it comes to a woman’s breasts, there are all sorts of questions many women are afraid to ask. But it’s important to know the answers.

Large, small, firm or soft everyone’s breasts are different,  but all women need to know the signs of breast cancer.

Dr. Andrea Jazbec-Lake of Kaiser Permanente is a breast cancer survivor.  She says a mammogram caught the disease in its early stages and encourages women to do monthly self breast checks so they know when something doesn’t feel normal.

Women should have their first mammogram at age 40 and ask a doctor about any abnormal symptoms.

Jazbec-Lake says those signs include, “a mass or a lump that they feel, skin changes or bloody nipple discharge.”

Before having your breasts surgically enhanced consider that studies show women with implants have a lower breast cancer rate — this is likely due to less breast tissue. But the flip side to this is that implants may make it harder for a standard mammogram to spot cancerous tissue.  Women should ask their doctor about the best type of screening.

Many women are shy to ask about breasts that are different sizes.

Doctors say woman should relax about this asymmetry — 65 percent of women have uneven breasts and research shows the left one is almost always bigger.

Cindy Johnson, owner of Sol Lingerie in Cherry Creek, says an expert bra fitter can accommodate women who have breasts that are asymmetrical and adds, “everybody has different size thumbs or feet so it’s natural.”

Experts say 60 percent of women are wearing a bra that doesn’t fit.

“It’s really important that the band fits properly,” says Johnson, “that’s 80 percent of the support.”

That support prevents sagging and back pain that can come with wearing an ill-fitted bra.

Kicking the habit helps too.

Research shows smoking breaks down elastin in the skin, causing breasts to sag even more than pregnancy can.

Experts add that it’s important to take good care of your breasts, especially now that the  most common bra size is a 36-C — 20 years ago is was a 34-B.

Researchers attribute the increase to  evolution and obesity.

For more information about guarding against breast cancer, visit Cancer.org.

You can also support the fight against breast cancer Thursday at the Bides Against Breast Cancer networking event, which will be held at World of Beer in Cherry Creek at 6 p.m. For more information, visit BridesAgainstBreastCancer.org.

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