Mammograms for mothers: Don’t forget to take care of yourself
As a mom, you typically take care of everyone else in the family first. But to continue to play the role of caretaker for years to come, you have to look after yourself too. Give yourself the gift of good health by keeping up with your wellness routine. A good step you can take today if you’re over 40? Scheduling a mammogram.
There are no sure things in medicine, but mammograms come pretty close.
“Mammograms, which are X-ray images of the breast, can detect something two years before we can see or feel it,” said LeAnn Haddock, MD, an OBGYN on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. “And because early detection is key to effectively treating cancer, mammograms are our best line of defense against breast cancer.”
Making a mammogram part of your annual wellness routine is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy—not just for you, but also for your family who depends on you.
Put mammograms on your to-do list
Dr. Haddock recommends getting a mammogram every year, beginning at age 40. Keep in mind that you may need to start screening earlier based on your family history and personal risk factors.
“Typically, we recommend women have the exam 10 years before the age that their relative was when they had their first diagnosis,” Dr. Haddock said.
For detailed recommendations, see the American Cancer Society guidelines.
How you can improve your breast health
Like anything you face in your role as a mom, knowledge is power. Along with screening for breast cancer, there are ways to proactively boost your breast health. Some factors associated with breast cancer can’t be changed, such as being a woman, age and family history, but there are plenty of everyday choices you can make to reduce your risk and protect your breast health.
Maintain a healthy weight
Overweight women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to those who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause, when having more fat tissue can raise estrogen levels and increase the chances of getting breast cancer. Consult your doctor about what is considered your ideal weight range for your height and body type.
Healthy eating choices, focused on a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight.
Regular exercise can help you maintain your ideal healthy weight and regulate hormone levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic intensity activity each week.
If you choose to drink, the general recommendation is to limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.
Explore your hormone replacement options
Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those that include both estrogen and progesterone) have been shown to raise the risk of breast cancer and increase breast density, making it harder to find breast cancer on a mammogram. Talk with your doctor about all the options to control your menopause symptoms, including the risks and benefits of each. If you decide to try HRT, the American Cancer Society recommends using the lowest dose that works for you and for as short a time as possible.
Schedule your mammogram online today at a breast imaging center near you and talk to your doctor about how you can start improving your breast health today.
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