Mama Knows Breast




Andi in the news

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Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Risk of Breast Cancer

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From today’s New York Times, the results of a new study:
There is new evidence that breast-feeding is associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer among a group of younger women who are at particularly high risk: those with breast cancer in the family.
Although several studies have found that lactation is protective against breast cancer, the new report found little effect for premenopausal women over all. But for women with an immediate relative, like a mother or a sister, who had breast cancer, those who breast-fed had a 59 percent lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer. That is closer in line with the risk for women who had no disease in the family, the study found.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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My brother (the doctor) sent me an email yesterday suggesting I do a blog post about National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I thanked him, and then realized that it was sort of troubling that I needed that reminder. It was troubling that, in essence, I needed a reminder to do a monthly breast self-exam.
For some reason I’ve always been a bit negligent in this department. Maybe it’s squeamishness. Maybe it’s that I can’t tell what’s normal and what’s not. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll find something wrong. So now, in recognition of this month, I’m resolving to be more diligent.
A while back, when I was still breastfeeding, I actually had a huge bump on the side of my breast. It really freaked me out. Fortunately, it went away as soon as I fed the baby and was no longer engorged. But I did go to the doctor anyway. She did a thorough check and determined that I was fine.

Breastfeeding can actually decrease your chances of getting breast cancer
, but you are still at risk. Heike Malakoff is someone who knows this all too well. She was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after weaning her twin sons. She has now started an organization called Check Your Boobies. Her website can teach you how to do a breast exam on your self. It will even send you a monthly reminder to do so.
So take the time to think about this aspect of your health. Have your doctor do a breast exam at your next check up. Ask her if it’s time for you to get a mammogram. And sign up for the Check Your Boobies email reminder.
For more information on breast cancer, or to make a donation to a breast cancer organization, check out these sites:
The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute

Getting a Mammogram

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I had my first mammogram today. And you know what, it wasn’t so bad. Sure, getting your boob pressed in a cold vise isn’t the greatest thing in the world. But it’s pretty quick, and if you’ve given birth to a baby, believe me, you can do this too. My appointment was for 10:00 and I was out by 10:15. I even had the results. Fortunately, all clear. I won’t have to come back for another two years, when I’m 40. (40?!?! Now THAT hurts).
It’s sort of fitting that I had this done today. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here’s some excellent information on different types of breast cancer screening and the benefits of early detection. Here are age recommendations for mammograms. And remember to do your monthly self-exam. Sign up for a monthly reminder from Check Your Boobies.org.

New Study Shows Breast Feeding Protects Against Breast Cancer

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My friend Kelley recently found out she has breast cancer. She has a three year old and a baby who is less than a year old. She was nursing the baby when she first detected the lump. Since then she’s had a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and now chemotherapy.
Despite this, Kelley has a bottomless reservoir of optimism. She’s a reporter at WCVB TV in Boston, and she’s even been providing viewers with updates on her story. There are on-line diary entries and video clips.
When I asked Kelley if it was ok to write this post, she sent me a quote (ever the reporter!) from one of her doctors. The doctor emphasized that breastfeeding can actually reduce the risk of breast cancer:
“On a population level, we’d see a 5 percent reduction in breast cancer cases globally if everyone breast fed. Also, breast cancer in young women is rare, so the vast majority of lumps are benign. A good way to differentiate is a clogged duct should go away. If you are activley breast feeding, it (the plugged duct) should be gone if the baby empties that breast. If you wean, it should dissipate in about two weeks. ”
– Dr. Hope Ricciotti, OBGYN, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Similar news today confirms that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The most important finding of the new study is that breastfeeding seems to lower the risk of developing breast cancer that comes from having children later in life, said Dr. Giske Ursin, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California medical school and the study’s lead author.
“Evidence suggests that women who have children after age 25 can reduce their risk of breast cancer by choosing to breastfeed,” Ursin says.

Please take a moment to read this story, and, for inspiration, visit Kelley’s site.

Grey’s Anatomy– BreastFeeding and Breast Cancer

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Last night on Grey’s Anatomy one of the story lines follows a young mom who has breast cancer and is going to have a mastectomy. She arrives in the hospital with her husband and baby in tow. The husband tells the doctors she’s having a hard time, that she had to stop nursing and the baby won’t take a bottle. Talking amongst themselves, one of the doctors says she probably thought the lump was a plugged milk duct.
Hurray to Grey’s Anatomy for highlighting breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is television at it’s finest! A subtle reminder to all women, even breastfeeding moms, to take any lump seriously.
I wrote an entry last week about a Seattle mom who first found a lump while breastfeeding her twins. She now runs an organization called Check Your Boobies, which promotes doing regular self breast exams. If you sign up, you can get a montly email reminder to do a check.
Grey’s Anatomy has been noted before for promoting breastfeeding. One of the main characters, Dr. Bailey, is a new mom. Not only did we get to see her endure some wonderful (imagine sarcastic tone here) labor pains, but we also got to see her breastfeeding. I actually missed that episode, but ProMom.org (another breastfeeding website) encouraged people to write letters to the show commending the writers.
And who said the “boob tube” wasn’t educational?!?!