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Breast Health After Menopause

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 20 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Menopause Breast Cancer Life Risk

A woman’s breasts go through a number of changes during her life, and menopause is no exception. It’s important to understand how your breast health can change and what risks are heightened during this transitional period.

Normal Changes in Your Reproductive Life

From your teen years through to menopause, your breasts undergo many hormonal changes. These occur in conjunction with your menstrual cycle as well as during pregnancy and lactation. Some women may experience benign breast lumps, tenderness around the time of their period and many other harmless changes that are part of life for a woman.

During a woman’s forties, breast tenderness and discomfort may be heightened. This is due to major changes in hormones, all of which impact a woman’s breast tissue. During postmenopausal years, sensitivity and soreness can continue while fatty tissue increases.

Breast Cancer After Menopause

A woman’s risk of breast cancer during these years can be reduced through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Depending on the country you live in, regular mammograms may also be recommended to screen for breast cancer.

Typically, they are recommended after the age of 50, which is around the time most women will experience menopause, along with an increased risk of breast cancer. It’s important to speak with your doctor about your personal risk factors and how you can reduce the risk of breast cancer after menopause.

Dense Breasts

A recent study suggests that women who have dense breasts are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. In particular, those women who have dense breasts and are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have a significantly raised risk of breast cancer.

If you fit this profile, it may mean additional, regular screenings for breast cancer as well as further preventative measures to protect breast health. Your doctor can provide advice about what measures you should be taking to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

How to Improve Breast Health After Menopause

As already explained, a healthy diet is key to breast health after menopause. Aim to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain foods and lean protein. Of particular importance is to reduce the amount of saturated fats in your diet while also avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.

Another risk factor is smoking. If you are a smoker, it’s more important than ever to speak to your doctor about support to quit. Many new treatments can help to make it easier to quit smoking.

Also vital is to continue breast self-examinations. These should ideally have been done regularly since your younger years but become more important after menopause when breast cancer risk increases.

Keeping Breasts Healthy

Breast health is not something to be ignored after menopause. Your body will continue to change and you should ensure you are aware of what is normal and what is reason for concern. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for breast cancer and any other breast conditions. Commit to living a healthy lifestyle that will not only protect your breasts but also support overall health after menopause.

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