Some moms have tried having this talk when their girls are in high school. This is still a giggly age, though.
I believe the ideal time is when they’re college age—they’re away from home, on their own, and making personal decisions for themselves, and those decisions include choosing to adopt some behaviors and lifestyles that might increase their risk of getting breast cancer.
So what message should we give to young women in this age group (18 to 30 years, primarily)? Here’s some information:
Regular exercise is a way to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Power walking three times a week for 30 minutes is great.
Beware of the 10-lb weight gain that commonly happens to college freshman. Get on the treadmill while reading the chapters due for tomorrow’s classes
A diet rich in green and orange veggies is smart medicine.
Sedentary behavior is your enemy. We want you to study, but also remain active too.
No alcohol. Yes, we know that “everybody does it.” You, however, are not “everybody.” You are smarter than the rest. Demonstrate your intelligence by not drinking. It will reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.
No smoking—and if your roommate smokes, tell her to take it outside as this too increases your risk.
Do your monthly breast self exam just as your menstrual period is ending or has ended. This is the best time to examine the breasts. You are looking for a change from last month to this month. Know the geography of your breasts.
If you want to keep your breasts perky, then wear a bra that really fits correctly. There are certified bra fitters at some dept stores. Ask when you go. The Coopers ligaments help keep breast tissue perky; however, these ligaments stretch out and get longer when the breasts are not properly supported. Nurses call the ill effects “Coopers Droop.” So support is crucial.
If you notice nipple discharge, a new lump, dilated pores in one spot on the breast, a rash, or one breast suddenly looking different from its mate, go to the health nurse on campus for evaluation.