New Guidelines On How To Take Better Care Of Your Boobs

To better protect women and the breasts they love and sometimes hate and always want to hold on to, the American Cancer Society has issued a new set of guidelines this week that recommends women be screened less frequently for breast cancer.

The organization now advises women with an average breast cancer risk to start getting mammograms at 45 years old instead of 40, and tells doctors to stop bothering with routine breast checks in their offices if the patient has no symptoms of abnormality in their breasts. 

To those of us who check WebMD too often, it sounds crazy. Early detection would seem to increase the odds that a patient will beat cancer. But the latest research shows that traditional methods of detection are ineffective and even inaccurate, leading women to seek aggressive treatments for a disease they may not have.

As the chief of breast surgery at the Duke Cancer Institute, Dr. Shelley Hwang knows the heartbreak of gratuitous surgeries. In her own practice and in ELLE, she has advocated for less-invasive medical protocol.

"The more mammograms you get during your lifetime, the more likely you are to have one that picks up something that may require a lot more additional work—​more biopsies, more mammograms, even MRIs—​only to find out that it's a false alarm or a cancer scare. By having mammograms every couple of years, particularly if you're older, you probably don't lose a substantial amount in terms of how curable your cancer will be once it's detected." 

But Hwang understands the anxiety that even the threat of breast cancer can provoke, which is why I invited her to break down the new rules and teach us how to take care of our breasts in the process.  

1. "Mammograms are a health choice."

"They are an opportunity to improve overall breast health, but know that no screening test is perfect, and you should not rely only on mammograms to detect all cancers. In fact, the younger you are, the less likely that mammograms will be able to detect a cancer."

2. "The new guidelines are meant for women at average risk for breast cancer."

"If you have a family history of breast cancer or other reasons for having an increased risk, it is reasonable to talk to your doctor about more frequent screening." Meaning, if you know you're at risk for what Hwang calls the "Angelina Jolie" mutation, or, the BRCA gene, then you should make a decision with your doctor about how to best screen for potential cancers.

3.  "Be breast-aware."

"You are the best one to notice any changes in the shape and feel of your breasts, and to report them to your doctor if you find something new that persists for more than two months." On this, Hwang encourages a second opinion. "Enlist the help of a friend!" she says, to get a sense of whether what you've noticed is normal.

4. " Reduce those factors in your life that may be linked to increased breast cancer risk."

"Such as excessive alcohol intake, hormone replacement therapy, processed foods, and obesity. Not only will this reduce your breast cancer risk, but it will improve your overall health too!" Trust your instincts, Hwang adds. Trust your boobs.​

From: ELLE 
Photo By Getty 

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