Women’s Health – Part 2

In Blog, Health, Podcasts by Wendy Christien

Breast health is an integral part of women’s health which should not be neglected. Many women can feel stressed and anxious about breast health and may even feel embarrassed discussing it, but this should be an area where women can be open and where they should seek help should it be necessary.

Frequent self-examination of your breasts allows you to pick up any changes more quickly.

 

The following are general indicators of healthy breasts:

  • Consistent texture, skin tone and temperature
  • Absence of a discharge
  • Absence of pain

Consistent texture, skin tone and temperature

Lumpiness in the breast is one of the biggest areas of concern for women, but consistent lumpiness that does not change is generally not abnormal. Any new lumps with or without other breast changes should always be investigated further.

Even skin tone is another indicator of healthy breast tissue. Any indentations in the skin, redness or puckering can be a sign of breast changes and should be looked at.

The breasts should be the same temperature as the rest of the body. If there is unnatural warmth or a hot feeling it could be a sign of an infection and having a medical examination will be necessary.

Absence of discharge

The breasts are designed to produce milk for breastfeeding, however if you are not breastfeeding and don’t have a small baby, there should be no discharge from your nipples. Some medications can cause a side effect of milk production, but if you experience anything unusual it is always a good idea to speak to your doctor.

Absence of pain

Breast tenderness can be a common premenstrual symptom, but generally the breasts should not be tender or painful. If you are experiencing breast tenderness speak to your doctor. Using a supplement like Evening Primrose oil can be helpful to reduce breast tenderness, but there could be other hormonal imbalances so if you are unsure always discuss any concerns with your doctor. It’s better to raise concerns early than to leave it until it may be something more serious.

To maintain healthy breasts the following is recommended:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain hydration levels
  • Follow a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Check vitamin D status and supplement where necessary
  • Regular self-examination and breast screening

A healthy, balanced diet reduces the risk of inflammation in the body which means that it’s less likely to develop chronic disease and cancers. Also, following a healthy eating plan allows us to manage our weight which reduces the risk for obesity. The hormone estrogen is stored in the fatty tissue in the body and therefore a higher fat ratio can increase the risk for the growth and progression of breast cancer.

Exercise is also beneficial as it increases our immune function and helps to maintain a healthy body composition.

Eating the rainbow provides all the nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals that help keep our bodies functioning optimally. We should aim for at least eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day along with healthy proteins and omega 3 rich foods. Limiting sugar and refined carbohydrates also helps to reduce acidity and inflammation which can lead to chronic disease. Staying well hydrated is also very necessary for a healthy body.

Women should ideally keep their alcohol intake to a minimum with no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a greater risk for breast cancer. Checking your vitamin D status can easily be done with a blood test and we shouldn’t assume that because we live in a sunny climate that our levels are adequate. Many more people than we expect have extremely low levels of vitamin D.

There are many diagnostic screening options to check on breast health and these include mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and thermoscans. 

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 14 October 2021 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am