10 things we should all know about breasts

Breasts embody femininity, motherhood and sexuality. Sensitive to hormones, they swell during the female cycle, change during pregnancy… Changes which raise many questions.

Whether you find your breasts too small, too heavy or sagging, how do you keep them healthy? On the Internet forums, your questions are numerous. Here are some facts that will help you see more clearly.

  1. Big breasts are no more worries:


Besides that it is not necessarily easy to assume them, especially in adolescence, large breasts require a lot of attention and, gravity requires, they sag more. Mainly, they can cause back pain . Each year in the United Kingdom, more than 18,000 women ask a surgeon to reduce them. The boob job operation is reimbursed by Medicare if the volume removed weighs at least 300 grams, the equivalent of two cup sizes.


Mammary hypertrophy is not gigantism, 300 g goes fast! We receive young girls who really have big breasts and who are very traumatized ”, testifies Dr. Sarra Mazouz-Dorval, head of clinic in plastic surgery, at the Saint-Louis hospital (Paris). 


Breast monitoring is the same regardless of their size.


  1. Infection is possible, even outside of breastfeeding:


Is the breast red, hot, sore, and you feel tired, with a little fever? It could be an infection. This is more common during breastfeeding because bacteria in the baby’s mouth can infect the breasts through a crack in the nipples. Young mothers are generally aware of it. But infection remains possible outside of breastfeeding periods, especially in common jacuzzis. It must be treated quickly (with antibiotics most often) so as not to degenerate into an abscess.

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  1. At each consultation, the gynecologist must palpate the breasts:


A breast palpation which includes the area of ​​the breasts, the axillary hollows and the top of the collarbones, must be performed once a year”, underlines Dr. Anne Thoury, gynecologist and surgeon. 


The examination can be carried out by his general practitioner or his midwife.


  1. Having sore breasts, it’s common:


There are indeed many causes of breast pain.


Before menopause, it is most often hormonal variations related to the menstrual cycle. “If the pain concerns both breasts and disappears after menstruation, it is rather reassuring”, explains Dr Espie.

Other pains, and this is more surprising, have nothing to do with the breast . “The description is the same: I have pain in my breast (s), but they are caused by rheumatism between the ribs and the sternum, intercostal bone pain or damage to nerves that project in the breast . They often occur in a single breast. It is therefore necessary to observe whether the pains are unilateral or bilateral, and punctuated by the cycle. In any case, if they persist, it is still better to discuss it with your doctor.

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  1. Breasts hate tobacco and alcohol:


Smoking increases the risk of breast cancer by 16% , a figure that rises to 22% if you started smoking young before a first pregnancy. Even passive smoking has an impact, albeit a small one, since it increases the risk of disease by 10%.

As for alcohol, it increases the risk of breast cancer in a dose-dependent manner: the more you drink, the more the risk increases. “Weekend drunkenness is surely to be avoided,”


  1. The benefits of sport on the chest:


The breasts have no muscle, so working on the pectoral does not promote good support. On the other hand, according to Dr. Stéphane Cascua, sports doctor, exercise ensures better posture of the back, and reduces the imbalance of the chest . In addition, sport reduces the risk of breast cancer.


  1. A doctor can refuse you a mammogram:


The prescription of a mammogram outside of the recommendations of the High Authority for Health must be justified by the doctor. However, it advises against mammograms before age 50 if no risk factor is identified: genetic mutation BRCA1 or 2, family history of breast cancer before 40 years or in a man, explains Dr. Thoury. The doctor can therefore refuse to issue the prescription unless palpation is difficult.” 

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  1. Eating sweet is not good:


We often read that eating Mediterranean and reducing fat reduces the risk of breast cancer.


The problem is that there is not much demonstrated in the prevention of breast cancer, in particular in terms of diet, regrets Dr. Espie. Let’s say you should probably avoid sugary products.” 


  1. Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers are hereditary:


And 70 to 80% of women who have breast cancer have no family history (source: National Cancer Institute).


  1. Self-examination of the breasts is useful:


“Self-examination has not been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality. However, as it is mainly the women or their partner who find the balls in the breasts, I prefer that it is as soon as possible and I presume that it is the case if they feel the breasts ”, 


The right rhythm: once a month, after your period (the breasts are softer), if this does not generate stress.

The disadvantages: we can detect benign abnormalities or areas of mastosis that will worry wrongly.

Instructions: in front of a mirror, examine your breasts, arms at your sides and then lift. Palpate each breast and armpit, then the areolas and nipples. Repeat the palpitation while lying down.

Signs to look out for: a lump, swelling in part of a breast, unusual discoloration, irritation or wrinkling of the skin, as well as redness, pain, retraction or discharge from the nipple.

You find an abnormality: call your gynecologist or your doctor. “The logic is then to prescribe a mammogram and an ultrasound if the woman is over 35 years old, only an ultrasound if she is younger so as not to irradiate her breasts too much. The delay to obtain this appointment is difficult to live with, but it does not change anything from a medical point of view,”

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