Breasts are fundamental to human life on many levels. Female breasts are often noted to be integral to self-image, are a source of sexual attraction for many people and provide comfort and nutrition for newborn infants. Breast tissue changes throughout the female life continuum. Before menopause, women have a higher ratio of glandular tissue to fat tissue, while glandular tissue is replaced by fat tissue after menopause. Breasts also change during pregnancy as the milk ducts grow in preparation for breastfeeding.
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Many women also notice their breasts become larger and more tender during pregnancy. After giving birth and breastfeeding, breasts shrink in size and some women notice they’ve changed in shape. With all of the breast changes occurring over the course of a lifetime, it’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not in order to make sure that you can support breast health throughout all of the changes in your life.
Nutrition and Breastfeeding
Good nutrition is most critical during breast feeding. Not only is breastfeeding important to a baby’s health but it has a positive impact on mother’s health. Moms who breast feed have increased nutrient demands to support feeding. These demands may not be met through diet alone, especially in women who follow a vegetarian and vegan diet due to a higher risk of deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D.
How Can I Lower My Risk For Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is always something that weighs on most women’s minds because most women know someone who has had breast cancer. They want to do what they can to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. A healthy lifestyle may offer some protection from breast cancer although there is no guarantee that you may totally alleviate any risk. For example, research shows a link between regular physical activity and a lower risk for breast cancer.
Nutrition and Breast Cancer
Nutrition may also play a role. Research shows a link between increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage and a lower risk for breast cancer. Certain nutrients, including diindolylmethane in cruciferous vegetables support breast health by promoting healthy estrogen metabolism. Other plant components called lignans are converted to enterolactone, a weak estrogen, and may offer some protection against breast cancer by blocking the action of stronger estrogens on breast tissue.
Breast Cancer and Vitamin D
Some research has also found a link between breast cancer and low levels of vitamin D, which is a vitamin that is not found naturally in many foods with the exception of fatty fish and eggs. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun which can be problematic for women who live in areas without direct sunlight during certain times of the year. Some foods like milk, cereals and non-dairy milk substitutes are also fortified with vitamin D.
Breast health should be a concern for all women. You should review your current dietary habits to determine the best course of action to combat risk factors related to breast cancer. In addition, drugstore.com offers a wide range of supplements to aid in adding these vital nutrients into your body. Talk to your doctor about whether one or more of these supplements are right for you.