Being in tune with your body and keeping an eye out for any abnormalities, changes, or concerns is of utmost importance. Our bodies go through many changes throughout life due to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and other life events. In particular, breasts can go through different stages due to  these factors and it’s crucial to catch any red flags early for optimal breast health. By adopting a proactive approach to breast health, you can become familiar with the unique characteristics of your breasts and detect any potential issues at their earliest stages.

Here are five habits you can incorporate into your routine to ensure healthy breasts :

  • Eat fruits and vegetables. Did you know that your dietary choices may influence your risk of developing breast cancer? A study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Cancer found that women who ate more than 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day had an 11% lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate 2.5 or fewer servings. While there’s no specific dietary plan to prevent breast cancer, developing healthier eating habits with diets rich in fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of various types of cancer, including breast cancer. These foods contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that have potential anti-cancer properties.
  • Watch your alcohol intake. Regular and excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Limiting alcohol intake is often recommended as a preventive measure. According to the American Cancer Society, drinking even small amounts of alcohol is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Alcohol can raise estrogen levels in the body, which may explain some of the increased risk.
  • Get moving and exercise. Working out is always a good idea. Whether that’s taking daily walks, going to the gym, or doing yoga, getting your body to move and sweat has many benefits for your physical and mental well-being. By staying physically active, you can maintain a healthy weight. Having your weight under control and exercising daily can help regulate hormones like estrogen and insulin that are linked to fueling breast cancer growth.
  • Take care of your skin. When we think of breast health, we’re more inclined to think of inside our breast, but the outside skin is just as important. In fact, changes on the skin can indicate an underlying issue, so it’s important to keep the skin clean and healthy. Some ways to do this is by moisturizing the skin to avoid dryness or inflammation. Applying SPF to your chest is also essential when exposed to strong UV rays.
  • Practice breast self-awareness. Instead of monthly self-breast exams, doctors are now recommending having a general awareness for any changes in your breasts such as lumps, swelling, redness, nipple discharge, pain, etc. The reasoning behind this is because breast self-exams haven’t been shown to be effective in detecting cancer or improving survival for women who have breast cancer. Instead, self-awareness, and annual mammograms, starting at age 40, are recommended.

Prioritizing breast health through healthy habits is an important investment in your overall well-being. By maintaining a balanced diet rich in nourishing foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and being mindful of your body’s changes, you are providing yourself with the tools to detect and prevent potential issues. “Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Undergoing annual screening mammography is your best bet for early detection of any problems. In combination, this is the best strategy for promoting breast health,” says Medical Director of the Fortunato Breast Health Center Michelle Price, MD.