Breast Health from Puberty to Prevention

in Essential Ramblings

I am NOT a doctor, I am not giving medical advice, I am just recapping something I attended yesterday… please take it as that and seek answers from your medical doctor.

That said, I attended an awesome speaker series at Northern Westchester Hospital yesterday (yes, the one I have been promoting, but it was truly a great lecture) so here are my notes to share with you…

Regarding your daughters:

Breast development average these days is between 9 and 11 years old.  If it is occurring before 9 for your daughter, have her checked.  If it happens after 9 and before 16, she’s in the normal range.
The average age used to be 12-13 years old.  Although there are no conclusive studies that say the hormones and chemicals in our food are causing earlier puberty and development…sure seems fishy with the age of development getting younger.  The fewer hormones and chemicals you put in your bodies, the better = common sense.
Breasts develop asymmetrically.  There is almost always a difference in their size or shape.  Totally normal. During development there can be soreness, pain, itching, and more.
Obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer.  Physical activity (moderate to strenuous work out 4 times a week) reduces the risk of cancer.  Exposure to second hand smoke greatly increases the risk.

My take away?  Feed your daughters good, healthy food without hormones and chemicals.  Teach them to take care of their bodies.  Limit their exposure to radiation, chemicals, second hand smoke.  Teach them to exercise and recognize their bodies.

And for the moms?

Early detection is the best prevention.  We all know that — you’ve heard the lectures about breast self-exam, mammograms at 40, and on and on.  What I found interesting though?  Breast self exams don’t need to be search and destroy or a mapping your chest exercise.  Feel around once a month (preferably the same time every month) and when you feel something different or weird, go get it checked — that’s not so hard.  The more familiar you are with what you have, the more likely you’ll be to recognize if there’s a problem. Most breasts are lumpy.  Getting to know YOUR lumpy breasts is the key.

Rumors but no conclusive studies linking the following as risk factors:

Underwire bras
Breast injuries
Caffeine (no risk to cancer, but can cause breast pain/soreness and lumpier breasts – so if you experience either of those, consider cutting back)

Risk factors to consider:

Breast Density
Radiation (cat scans, old xrays, other cancer treatments, environmental)
Family history
Early age of onset of menstruation
Hormone replacement therapy
Drinking alcohol more than 1 drink a day increases your risk
Obesity and high BMI increases risk
If you are at a higher risk, avoid xenoestrogens like in BPA plastics or Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) like in soy
Smoking and second hand smoke

Know your risk

Ask your doctor for a risk assessment, or call the Breast Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital to schedule an appointment.  Risk can be calculated and steps to monitor your health CAN be taken. Find out more about the Breast Institute at or call 914.242.7640.