Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer: FAQ

Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer: FAQBreast Cancer Awareness Month brings extra pause to mothers who are pregnant and breastfeeding. As you share your body to nurture your baby, it’s hard not to think about the impact that breast cancer, or any other type of cancer, may have on you or your little one. Today we’re sharing FAQ about breastfeeding and breast cancer:

Does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

Yes! Studies show that breastfeeding does indeed lower a mother’s risk of breast cancer for the rest of her life. Breastfeeding for any amount of time reduces risk of breast cancer but breastfeeding for more than two years (lifetime total) more than doubled the risk reduction of breast cancer. Breastfeeding may be especially helpful at reducing risk of estrogen receptor negative, including triple negative, breast cancers.

How does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

No one knows for sure why breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer. Some experts believe it is because mothers who are pregnant and then breastfeed have less menstrual cycles in their lifetime and are therefore exposed to less estrogen, a hormone that contributes to breast cancer. Breastfeeding also changes breast cells and tissue which may make them less receptive to the spread of cancer. Additionally, women who breastfeed tend to make better lifestyle choices for the health of their own bodies and their babies, such as not smoking, not drinking excessive alcohol and eating a healthier diet.

Can you Breastfeed if You Have Breast Cancer?

You cannot transfer breast cancer through breast milk therefore it is completely fine to breastfeed if you have breast cancer. The taste of your breast milk and milk supply may change due to alterations in the breast tissue. That does not necessarily mean your baby will reject the breast, however.

Can you Breastfeed if You are Being Tested for Breast Cancer?

In most cases diagnostic tests for breast cancer, including a mammogram, MRI, X-ray, CAT scan, PET scan or CT scan, do not affect the safety or quantity of breast milk. Even local and general anesthesia is acceptable during breastfeeding. A biopsy may interfere with milk ducts or nerves that are essential to breastfeeding, but the procedure is not categorically unsafe during breastfeeding. Unless instructed by your physician, there is no need to wean for diagnostic testing. If weaning is recommended but you are not ready to stop breastfeeding, discuss other options with your doctor.

Can you Breastfeed if you are Being Treated for Breast Cancer?

Often treatment for breast cancer is not compatible with safe breastfeeding. This includes chemotherapy and radioactive isotopes.

Does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Other Types of Cancer?

Yes! Studies show that breastfeeding for at least the recommended six months reduces risk of both ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer (uterine cancer).

Sources: La Leche League, Mayo Clinic, Reuters, Fit Pregnancy and Susan G. Komen

 

 

Breast Health for your Best Health

Breast health for your best healthAs women, our breasts are an important part of our anatomy, from creating our feminine figures, to feeding our children.  That’s why maintaining breast health is an essential part of our holistic health.  Just like we care for our hearts, our brains and our digestive systems, our breasts need care and support as well.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we are exploring the best practices for your breast health:

Breast Exam Plan:  When we think of breast health, most of us first think of breast cancer.  Breast cancer is one of the leading cancers among women in the U.S., however when it is detected early, it is not deadly.  Women should have a breast exam plan that includes monthly self breast exams, yearly clinical exams, and regular mammograms starting at age 40.  Although breast cancer is not always accompanied by signs and symptoms, having a plan that will increase your chances of early detection is the best way to protect yourself from breast cancer.  Also, know your risk factors, such as genetics, family history and lifestyle choices, and discuss them with your physician.

Know Your Breasts:  No one will ever know your body as well as you do.  When you know what is normal for your breasts, you will better be able to tell when something is abnormal.  Many non-cancer related breast conditions can occur, like cysts, fibrosis, duct issues, swelling and age-related changes, which may cause pain or discomfort.  Having a baseline for normalcy of your breasts can help your doctors diagnose your situation and bring you relief.

Childbirth, Breastfeeding and Hormones:  Although there are many risk factors for breast cancer and other diseases that effect women, childbirth, breastfeeding and hormone therapies play a role in breast and overall health.  Researchers believe that being pregnant and breastfeeding slightly lowers the risk of several types of cancer that are impacted by hormones, including breast cancer.  The theory is that women who have less menstrual periods have less fluctuations of certain hormones that may lead to cancer.  Women have no menstrual cycles when they are pregnant, of course, and fewer menstrual cycles while breastfeeding.  Therefore, the more time you spend in these two circumstances, you may slightly lower your risk of disease.  Similarly, women who start their menstrual cycles late and end them early have less risk too.  Hormone therapies, including birth control and replacement medications during menopause, can increase risk of breast health issues.

L347-PinkGingham-165x218Wear Comfortable Bras that Fit Your Body:  We are each gifted with breasts that are as unique as ourselves.  Finding comfortable bras that fit your breasts and your body is a crucial part of caring for breasts.   Not only will a well-fitting, comfy bra go unnoticed throughout your day, it can also improve support for your entire upper body.  After all, a bra is not just made of cups to support your breasts.  It also has straps to disperse weight across your shoulders and back, two areas that can be affected by an ill-fitting bra.  Your bras should lift and slightly compress your breasts to avoid excessive bounce.  No part of your bra should dig into your skin or ever leave a mark.  Bras with wider or lightly padded straps and multiple hook-and-eye closers will give you maximum comfort, flexibility and breathability for your lifestyle.  Many women believe the myth that breastfeeding causes breasts to sag.  That’s not true, but an improper bra can cause sagging over time.  That’s why women with larger breasts or whose breasts have expanded during breastfeeding should never go without a bra, even while sleeping.

Stay Healthy:  We can’t talk about breast health without talking about healthy lifestyle choices.  Our bodies are a intricate interconnected machine and each area affects the next.  As with any aspect of our health, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential.  Foods with a high concentration of antioxidants, lean protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber are all part of a wholesome diet.  Be sure to stay active by doing exercise that also makes you happy.  That means you don’t have to hit the gym everyday if you prefer playing tennis, biking or swimming as your workout. Limit excessive fat intake and alcohol consumption and never smoke.  Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for health, especially breast health. Women whose weight fluctuates tend to have saggier breasts because of the constant expansion and contraction of breast tissue.

Cheers to your breast health for your best health!

Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month when we’re all thinking pink and reflecting on our own health as it pertains to the risk factors of breast cancer.  Chances are each of us knows someone who has been touched by this disease.  There are nearly 220,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the U.S. and approximately 40,000 die of it annually.

There is no cure for any type of cancer, but months, like October, are dedicated to advocacy and fundraising for various types of cancer.  Many of the known risk factors of cancer – all cancers – are the same:  smoking or any use of tobacco or nicotine products; exposure to radiation; infection; sunlight; genetic factors; hormones; and aging.  It is also believed that poor diet, being physically inactive, excessive alcohol consumption, stress and environmental conditions can be risk factors of cancer as well.  While we cannot change our genes or the natural aging process, there are certainly ways to position ourselves to reduce our own risk of cancer.  These include: eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, limiting sun exposure, avoiding tobacco and alcohol and maintaining overall full-body health and wellness.

Breastfeeding and Breast CancerFor women, when it comes to breast cancer, there is one additional measure we can talk for ourselves and our daughters:  Breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding reduces risk of both estrogen-negative and estrogen-positive breast cancers.  And there is never too much of a good thing when it comes to breastfeeding as it relates to lowering risk of breast cancer.  Statistically speaking, the longer a mother breastfeeds, the more her risk is reduced.  Women who breastfeed for more than a year total, between all of her children, have a 28% lower risk of breast cancer than those who do not.

Breastfeeding lowers a woman’s risk of breast cancer for several reasons:

First, between pregnancy and breastfeeding, a nursing mom will have less menstrual cycles.  Breastfeeding usually delays the return of periods, which is call amenorrhea.  Some women that breastfeed don’t menstruate for more than a year after giving birth.  Less menstrual cycles result in lower estrogen in the body, which reduces the potential for cancer.

Believe it or not, breasts that are busy making milk don’t have time to form cancer cells.  Producing breast milk takes a lot of effort – 25% of the body’s energy, in fact.  When cells are focused on making that wonderful, nutritious, delicious milk for babies, they are less likely to develop cancer.

Additionally, women who breastfeed tend to be healthier on the whole.  It could be because breastfeeding is a choice that health-conscious women make for the health of both themselves and their babies.  It also could be that, even if they are not as concerned for their own health, mothers are interested in the very best health for their babies.  That means a healthy diet that is passed through breast milk to the baby, as well as exercising, stress management and getting plenty of sleep.  And most moms who are breastfeeding follow recommendations of not smoking and drinking alcohol.

For babies, human milk can provide amazing antibodies to keep their bodies strong in infancy and throughout their entire lives.  Their immune systems are stronger, they get less bacterial and viral infections and they contract fewer diseases.  They also tend to be healthier, eat healthier, are less likely to be obese and are more well-adjusted members of society.  Remember those risk factors from earlier?  Many of them may be avoided by giving your baby a great nutritional start and being a role model for healthy habits.  As if that were not enough, baby girls who are given human milk are 25% less likely to get breast cancer themselves.

There is not definitive way to avoid getting cancer.  But knowing risk factors and avoiding them is your best chance at personally evading this life-threatening disease.  Make breastfeeding one of the ways you stand up to cancer.  It could save your life and it could save your baby’s life some day too.

Getting Pregnant in Your 20s: What to Expect

Getting Pregnant in Your 20s: What to ExpectThere’s no magic age at which it’s most beneficial for you and your partner to start a family, but there are noticeable health and emotional differences between pregnancy in your 20s versus in your 30s or 40s. What can you expect from a pregnancy in your 20s? We’re looking at the pros and cons today and bringing you the best family planning information if you’re in your second decade.

Your 20s will most likely be the decade in which you accumulate most of your life experiences. There are a lot of firsts in your 20s: first home, first job, marriage, etc. Amid the changes, many couples find themselves adding children to the mix. According to data from the Center for Disease Control, pregnancy rates are highest among women in their 20s. Even though you may not be settled into a career or long-term relationship, you are energetic and the most fertile you’ll ever be. If you have regular, ovulatory periods, there is a 20 percent chance you will get pregnant if you have sex without protection. You are in peak biological and physical condition to carry a baby with the least chance of complication.

There are psychological factors to consider about getting pregnant in your 20s that do not generate the same kind of concern later in life. Without the feeling of financial and emotional stability, pregnancy can seem daunting in your 20s. Even though you have a low risk of hypertension and your risk of developing gestational diabetes is half that in your 40s, you do not have the luxury of feeling set in lifestyle like a woman in her 30s or 40s might. A woman in her later 20s will have more stability compared to her younger self, so some of these external issues like job advancement and body image will not seem as important. Being prepared to do the most you can for your baby is a great indicator of feeling ready to get pregnant.

More good health news for getting pregnant in your 20s: your miscarriage risk is the lowest it will ever be. If you’re properly exercising and have good nutritional habits, getting back to your normal body weight after birth will be easier than at any other age. Of course, breastfeeding your baby will help burn extra calories after delivery as well as lower your risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer later in life. Nursing is also the most cost-effective way to ensure that your baby is getting the best nutrition. Take into consideration how having a baby will change your routine, job, and relationship before getting pregnant—welcoming a baby into your family is a special time and should be enjoyed more so than not.

What do you think, moms? Did you experience any of the above if you gave birth in your 20s? Be sure to share and offer support to women you know that are trying to get pregnant in their 20s. More moms feel confident about breastfeeding and raising a baby when they have a strong, active community to turn to for advice!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Breast Health

As new moms, we’re always worried about the health of our babies, but as a breastfeeding mom, you should also consider your breast health.  If breast milk is the primary or any source of nutrition for your baby, healthy breasts are essential.  As we focus on breast cancer awareness during the month of October, we should remember that breast health is a year-long quest, and should be taken as seriously as other aspects of our health.  And now, as a breastfeeding mom, breast health is more important than ever.

Here are the six best things you can do for your breasts:

Measuring bra cup sizeWear the Right Bra:  Wearing a properly fitting bra is vital, not only to support your breasts throughout the day (and night!), but also to remain comfortable.  You can determine your bra size using our Loving Moments bra size calculator.

Women often believe themselves to be a certain bra size and continuously buy that size, no matter how it fits.  Don’t get stuck on a certain size.  The right bra for you is the bra that fits and supports you best!  Also, be sure to wear the right bra to meet your lifestyle needs.

Happy mother breast feeding her sonBreastfeeding:  We all know that breast is best for babies because breast milk has the most perfect set of nutrients for your little one’s developing body.  Studies show that breastfeeding also benefits mamas by reducing risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and reduces postpartum depression.

You may have heard the myth that breastfeeding causes breasts to sag…it’s not true!  The American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that enlarged breasts due to milk production is not one of the causes for loss of breast elasticity.

Exercise:  Exercises does the body good in so many ways. Staying physically fit so the body is strong and able to fight off illness and diseases is just one example.  Exercising and maintaining a healthy body mass index can help to decrease your chances of breast cancer.

Exercise also helps strengthen muscles to improve posture, which is especially important if you have large breasts.  A strong back will help you carry the weight and reduce pressure on the back and shoulders.

Be sure to wear a properly fitting sport bra, even when breastfeeding, such as Leading Lady’s active wirefree nursing bra.   Your sports bra should encapsulate and compress breasts to prevent bounce, strain and sag, but also give you a full range of motion to be active.

Nutrition and Avoiding Alcohol and Smoking:  Eating a diet high in antioxidants (found in many fruits, vegetables and even coffee), can help the body fight cancers like breast cancer.  Limit excessive fat intake, alcohol consumption and avoid smoking, as they are risk factors for breast cancer.

Know Your Body:  Every woman’s breasts are different, including breast tissue density, nipple size and hormonal fluctuations.  Know what is normal for you so you can identify when you may have a problem, such as a lump, discharge, discoloration or deformation of the breast.  Consult your physician if you sense any abnormalities.  It could save your life!

Exams:  Self breast exams can also save lives and should be performed monthly, about 5-10 days after the start of your period.  Perform them in the shower, in front of the mirror and while lying down.  You OBGYN or primary care physician should also do a thorough breast exam every year.  The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women starting at age 40.

Wishing you excellent breast health as we focus on breast cancer awareness this month, and for many years to come!

National Ovarian Cancer Awareness: A Story of one Woman, One Sister, One Daughter, One Friend’s Battle against Ovarian Cancer

Earlier in September, I wrote about National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  My best friend Erika died of the disease and I have made it a priority in my life to support and build awareness for this cause.  Part of my mission is to share information about ovarian cancer with women in order to help them understand the risk factors, symptoms and precautions to promote early detection and reduce ovarian cancer related deaths.  You can learn some basic information about the signs and symptoms in my recent Ovarian Cancer Awareness blog post.

Erika's Journey: The Endless MiracleMy best friend Erika had a beautiful soul that touched each and every person she met. Her smile, love for life, and laughter were all contagious.  She was a first grade teacher who was impacting the lives of children on a daily basis.  As she struggled with this vicious disease, Erika chronicled her battle and updated friends and family on her fight.  Her readership grew beyond loved ones into a worldwide audience.

Now Erika’s words have been made into a book, Erika’s Journey: The Endless Miracle.  Erika is no longer physically here to share her story, but her legacy lives on through this book.  As we join together to fight ovarian cancer, I encourage you to download the book and share it with those you love.  It’s available on Amazon.com, Apple iTunes, BarnesandNoble.com and Kobobooks.com.

Please join me in my mission to continue to make Erika’s life, and death, meaningful by educating and inspiring those you love to take action and stand up against ovarian cancer.

Danah

Ovarian Cancer Awareness: Help Me Support the Cause

Ovarian Cancer Awareness: Help Me Support the Cause

LPGA Golfer Danah Bordner and Loving Moments SpokesMom!

Ovarian cancer awareness is an issue very close to my heart.  Having lost my best friend to ovarian cancer, I am a supporter and champion of National Ovarian Cancer Month awareness every September.  For me and thousands of other supporters, September is a time to educate people on the signs and symptoms of this terrible disease.

Believe it or not, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women. Still, many women do not know the risk factors and warning signs of the disease.  Because of the lack of awareness, only 20% of cases are caught in the early and most treatable stages.  This is why all of us must all join together to spread knowledge and awareness.

Here are some basic facts we should all know:

Be aware of the symptoms so you can detect them in early in yourself and others.  The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include abdominal pressure or swelling; pelvic pain; prolonged indigestion; changes in bowel and bladder habits; lower back pain; loss of appetite; and lack of energy.

Understand the risk factors so you can be more vigilant.  Ovarian cancer is more common in older women and usually develops after menopause.  Women who are obese, consume higher fat diets, drink excessive alcohol and smoke are more likely to develop the disease.  A family or personal history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer increase a woman’s risk as well.  Additionally, women who have received hormone therapy may have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Fortunately, there are some factors that decrease a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer.  Child birth and breastfeeding (yay!) lower risk of ovarian cancer, as does having used birth control at any point in your life.  Like many cancers and other diseases, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and maintaining overall wellness can also reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

There are many ways to get involved in raising awareness on a national and community level through the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC).  I am personally supporting the cause during our fifth and final major tournament on the LPGA Tour, which starts September 12th in Evian, France.  I am pledging money to NOCC for every birdie I make!

Who wants to join me?  You can follow my progress towards raising funds for ovarian cancer awareness on LPGA.com.  Let’s make a difference together!

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Danah Bordner
New Mom, LPGA Professional Golfer and Loving Moments Spokesmom

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Benefits of Breastfeeding: Benefits for Moms

The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous.  Breastfeeding gives our babies a healthy start in life, and it gives mothers many health benefits as well.  Studies are overwhelmingly positive about the direct physical and emotional benefits moms get from breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is linked to lowered risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes and osteoporosis.  Skin-to-skin contact from breastfeeding produces the “closeness hormone” oxytocin, which promotes emotional health and reduces post-partum depression.  Breastfeeding mothers also tend to return to their pre-baby weight faster.

Happy Mommy & BabyThere are also many indirect benefits of breastfeeding.  Because a nursing mother’s baby has a stronger immune system, the entire family is likely to get sick less.  Being sick less often saves families, and society, a great deal of money over the course of the family’s lifetime.  Speaking of money, breastfeeding is also a more economical option overall!

 

Breastfeeding is a gift to your child and yourself.  Take the time to relax and enjoy your healthy breastfeeding habit.  It is one addiction all doctors recommend!