Be Your Own Bosom Buddy: 10 Facts on Breast Health You Need to Know

We all know breast cancer is a horrible disease, and the more we learn about prevention and early detection the closer we come to beating it.

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Few people ever get into the nitty-gritty of breast health. We all know breast cancer is a horrible disease, one that you probably do already know a bit about, and the more we learn about prevention and early detection the closer we come to beating it. A recent Canadian study shows that we’re making progress. According to Reuters, “Rates of breast cancer recurrence fell by half or more between the 1980s and the early 2000s—likely due to improved treatments and increased screenings.” Even more good news, a vaccine that slows the progress of metastatic breast cancer is showing real promise. So we’re taking a moment to empower you, dear readers, with some breast health facts you really should know. From how to care for them to how they’re supposed to change over the years (and some not so well-known things to look out for), here are some tidbits of information about your own tidbits.

The Monthly Exam

A woman self-examining a breast

You’re doing a self-exam every month, right? You’re not? While it’s true that the efficacy of the self-exam has been debated, the potential benefits when it comes to breast health far outweigh any time spent performing this painless, easy procedure. You should be doing it. Monthly.

And Your Partner Too…

Fun fact: many lumps and bumps aren’t found during the self-exam but rather found by a partner during a less formal examination of the area. Be sure to repay the favor later.

Young Mothers At A Lower Risk


Women who have no children or start their family after the age of 30 are at a higher risk of breast cancer than women who were (or are) younger mothers. Next time your well-meaning abuela is giving you a tough time for putting off college to have babies, you can send this fancy fact her way.

Not Just a Lump

The signs of breast cancer include lumps and bumps, of course, but there are other not so obvious symptoms to look out for. Nipple tenderness or discharge is one to notice as well as a change in the texture of the skin of the breast. Some women report their skin starts to feel like an orange peel.

Getting a Mammogram


In 2009 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that mammograms for women with an average risk for breast cancer start at age 50 instead of 40—causing many 39-year-olds to heave a sigh of relief. However, the medical community overwhelmingly disagreed with this finding so the rule is still that yearly mammograms should begin at the age of 40 for most women.

If You Can’t Afford One…

Even with the Affordable Health Care Act, getting a mammogram can be financially out of reach for many women. It’s for this reason that the National Breast Cancer Foundation created the National Mammography Program through which women can find free or reduced cost mammograms across the country.

They’re Evolutionary

A woman with a bra that covers her breasts

Most primates’ mammary glands only swell when they’re lactating. Human breast tissue grows and stays large (though larger when nursing, right girls?) throughout our lives. Why? Theories suggest that over thousands of years, in order to facilitate mating and procreation of the species, men appreciated being able to identify a women’s shape from a distance. Basically, we were kind of like prey and boobs made us easier to find among a sea of men without them. Lovely.

What’s in a Breast, Anyway?

Breasts are made up of nipples connected to milk ducts, which lead to 15-25 milk glands on each side. It’s all held together by fat, connective tissue and those awesome muscle fibers and nerve endings that broadcast to the world when we’re cold…or aroused.

Implants or Bust (pun very much intended)

A person holding breast implants

Sorry ladies but implants or Botox injections are the only way to increase your bust size unless you’re ready to gain weight and get bigger all over. Firming up your chest muscles can make them firmer and perkier so we’re sticking with that for now.

You’re Wearing the Wrong Size

Bra, that is! Most women are wearing a bra that’s too large in the band and too small in the cup. We recommend visiting a high-end department or specialty bra store to get measured. You won’t believe what wearing the right bra size can do for your posture, fit of your clothing and your self-esteem!

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