Here at Belly Bandit HQ the fight against breast cancer is a very personal one, http://bellybandit.com/charity/. That’s why we donate a portion of all sales of the “pink” Don’t Sweat It Bra liner to the Shades of Pink Foundation, a charity dedicated to providing assistance to women who are experiencing financial distress as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis.

And that’s why, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to share these important prevention tips from Rebecca Agi, MS, IBCLCIn-House Lactation Consultant at La Vie – to remind women everywhere about the importance of breast cancer prevention.

Here are 5 ways to lower your risk of breast cancer:

  1. Do breast self-exams. Doing regular breast self-examinations once a month will help familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. If you’re breastfeeding, its not uncommon to have lumpy breasts due to plugged ducts, so don’t panic. The key is to make sure they resolve after a few days of effective breastfeeding. La Leche League recommends a similar technique to the breast self-exam known as the Massage-Stroke-Shake technique. This is a great technique for getting your milk flowing, increasing milk supply and checking your breasts at the same time.
  2. Breastfeed, if possible. Research shows that women who breastfeed lower their risk of developing pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. The risk-reduction appears to be dose-dependent, meaning that the longer a woman breastfeeding, the more she’s protected. Why? Since breastfeeding suppresses ovulation, a woman’s lifetime exposure to hormones like estrogen is decreased, which lowers her chances of developing breast cancer.
  3. Limit alcohol consumption. Research shows that consuming alcoholic beverages increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer since alcohol can increase estrogen levels and damage DNA in cells. It is recommended to limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day.
  4. Reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals & radiation. Avoid carcinogenic chemicals and limit exposure to radiation from medical tests like X-rays, CT scans and PET scans unless absolutely necessary.
  5. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Taking care of your health by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep can help lower your chances of breast cancer.

Of course we can’t change certain things like getting older or our family history, but we can take certain steps to lower our risk of breast cancer.