Perky or pendulous, AA or DDD–our boobs come in a seemingly infinite variety of shapes and sizes. Each pair is beautifully unique, of course. And yet many of us wonder about the exact same things: “Why do my breasts sometimes hurt?” “Why can’t I find a bra that fits?” “Should I be concerned about this lump?” Worry not: We’ve got answers to your most pressing breast-related FAQs–so you can give your girls all the support they need.
FAQ No. 1: What should I eat to keep my girls healthy?
Suzanne Dixon, RD, an epidemiologist and dietitian in Portland, Ore., advises eating a wide variety of plant-based foods, including these:
Nuts: “All varieties are rich in phytosterols, which have been shown in lab and animal studies to inhibit tumor development,” Dixon says. And some types (including walnuts and pecans) contain fatty acids that may help reduce PMS-related soreness.
Cruciferous vegetables: Cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts are all chock-full of glucosinolates; these chemicals break down into compounds that appear to inhibit the development of cancer cells.
Mushrooms: Women who ate 10 or more grams of fresh fungi a day (about the size of a single white mushroom) had a 64 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, according to a 2009 Chinese study.
Legumes: Beans and lentils are also loaded with phytosterols. A Harvard University study showed that women who ate legumes at least twice a week had a 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate them less than once a month.
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FAQ No. 2: Help! Why are my breasts heading south?
Here are a few myths and facts about what causes your dynamic duo to droop.
You’re getting older
TRUE. The ligaments that help give breasts their shape are made of collagen and elastin, which break down as you age.
You don’t always wear a bra
FALSE. “A bra will hold up your breasts temporarily, but it can’t prevent sagging,” says Dan Mills, MD, vice president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Exception: a sports bra. Bouncing during workouts can make connective tissue deteriorate over time.
You liked tanning
TRUE. Ultraviolet rays break down collagen, Dr. Mills says. More reason to slather on SPF!
FAQ No. 3: Should I get an ultrasound, too?
If you have dense breasts, it’s harder for a radiologist to spot signs of cancer on your mammogram. But a study published in February estimated that performing supplemental screening ultrasound on 10,000 women with dense breasts and negative mammos would prevent only about four deaths and would require about 3,500 unneeded biopsies. A potential alternative: tomosynthesis, an advanced type of digital mammogram that’s becoming increasingly available. It generally improves detection rates and decreases false positives, says Barbara Monsees, MD, spokesperson for the American College of Radiology.
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