J. Ryan Roberts
The Best Time to Do a Breast Self-Exam Is After Your Period
So you don't freak at the feel of a random lump (which are totally normal thanks to fluctuating levels of hormones), keep your self-exams consistent. The most effective time to exam your breasts is three to five days after your period starts, when they are not as tender or lumpy. Gone through menopause? Just make sure to do the exam on the same day each month. Examine your breasts — using your middle fingers — lying down, sitting, and looking in a mirror so that you can check for changes in all of your breast tissue. Pressed for time? Give yourself a quick check when you're in the shower.
Implants May Lower Breast Cancer Risk
"Women with breast implants actually have a lower breast cancer rate than women without," says Daniel Careaga, MD, a plastic surgeon in Miami. "This is likely due to much less breast tissue; less breast tissue means there are less areas for cancer to form." But, according to the American Cancer Society, while implants don't increase the risk of breast cancer, they may make it harder to see breast tissue on a standard mammogram.
Breast Cancer Survival Rate Is Increasing
There are approximately 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States, says Dr. Careaga. And according to the National Cancer Institute, the survival rate for breast cancer patients has increased every year since the early '90s. Physicians chalk these positive stats up to the fact that more women are doing self-breast exams at home and detecting tumors earlier.
The Left Is Larger
An Emory University study found that most women's breasts are different sizes, and the left one is usually the larger one. Researchers studied breast images from nearly 100 women (without any previous breast cancer or surgery). Approximately 62 percent of the women in the study had breasts that were two different sizes.
They Weigh a Lot Less Than Melons
Breasts are commonly referred to as "melons", but they're more similar in weight to a grapefruit, says Dr. Careaga. The average grapefruit weighs, at its heaviest, a half-pound. Meanwhile, melons tip the scale between three and eight pounds.
Cup Sizes Are Growing
The modern day bra (think: Miracle and Victoria's Secret) only dates back one hundred years. Before that women wore corsets, which were more for securing the torso than the breasts. The most common bra size in the United States today is 36C. Twenty years ago the most common bra size was a 34B.
Your Mom or Grandmother May Not Have Worn a Sports Bra
It was called the Jogbra and it was created in 1977 when two American women took a pair of jockstraps, cut them apart, and sewed them back together. All together now: Ouch! Life is much sweeter with spandex.