With Dr Mary Ling, Central Coast Breast and General Surgeon
Try these 5 breast healthy habits during self-isolation
1 Breast self-examinations are not cancelled
Breast screening services may have temporarily ceased, but breast self-examinations are not cancelled! Remain breast aware by checking your breasts on a regular basis, linking it to a daily routine such as having a shower, whilst in bed or getting dressed in front of the mirror. Download the Know Your Lemons app for your virtual breast self-examination coach. If you find new changes, see your GP to have further tests and do not delay until the pandemic is over.
2 Get to know your family’s medical history
1 in 10 cases of breast cancer is linked to faulty genes passed through family. Chances are you are connecting more with your family during this period of lockdown. Take the opportunity to get to know your family’s medical history over the next Zoom family meeting. Red flags in the history to suggest hereditary breast cancer include breast cancer at young age (less than 50), breast and ovarian cancer in the same woman and breast cancer in a male relative. Take note of history from both maternal and paternal sides, as well as other types of cancer (especially ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer).
3 Calculate your breast cancer risk from your couch
Now that you know your family history, you can complete an online quiz that calculates your breast cancer risk. iPREVENT is a validated risk calculator to help Australian women know their personal breast cancer risk and then take action. It will ask about your family cancer history, lifestyle and reproductive risk factors, and then provide you with a 10 year and residual lifetime risk estimates for breast cancer, as well as personalised lifestyle change suggestions and tailored advice on breast cancer screening.
4 Make those Quarantinis non-alcoholic
It’s not just toilet paper that have been flying off the shelves – alcohol has been selling like crazy too! But the sobering fact is that 1 in 5 of the nation’s breast cancer cases is linked to alcohol intake. No level of drinking is considered safe for avoiding cancer, and excessive drinking can also weaken your immune response. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to 2 drinks per day. Or why not get creative with non-alcoholic Quarantinis? Visit BBC Good Food Healthy Drink Recipes for ideas.
5 Butt out and avoid the Corona Cough
Smoking is a known risk factor for breast cancer, especially if you started at a young age and before your first pregnancy. Recent studies have also shown smokers have a 14 times higher risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 compared to non-smokers. Now is the perfect time to quit smoking. Join the iCanQuit community to develop your quit plan, connect with other quitters and work out how much money you can save.