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5 Ways to Promote Healthy Breasts, Find Problems Early, and Prevent Cancer


Between early detection and advancements in treatment options, breast cancer outcomes have greatly improved in recent years. Even better news? Protecting your breasts doesn’t have to be hard work — in fact, research proves it doesn’t have to be work at all, thanks to these effortless tricks!

Kick back!

Doing breast self-exams lying down allows the tissue to spread out so it’s easier to feel lumps, Mayo Clinic experts say.

Tip: Use three fingers together. City of Hope breast surgeon Laura Kruper, MD, says this keeps tissue from separating and giving the false feeling of bumps.

Hit snooze.

Permission to cozy up under the covers a little longer: A study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found postmenopausal women who slept seven to eight hours each night were up to two and a half times less likely to develop breast cancer.

To catch more Zzzs, try a 10-minute scalp massage before bed. Taiwanese scientists say it spurs the release of sleep-regulating serotonin, adding up to 60 minutes to your nightly slumber.

Gab with the girls.

Enjoying 30 minutes of fun and relaxation — like catching up with friends or tuning in to a sitcom four times a week — reduces your odds of breast cancer by as much as 30 percent, suggests research in Nature. It curbs the production of the stress hormone cortisol that makes cancer-fighting immune cells sluggish.

Dig into garlic bread.

University at Buffalo scientists found folks who ate garlic and onion at least five times a week were 67 percent less likely to get breast cancer over a five-year period than those who rarely enjoyed the protective duo. The reason? Anticarcinogens in garlic and onion block the growth and spread of cancerous cells. To get the benefits, aim for one medium onion and one clove of garlic daily.

Get in the game.

Puzzles and games challenge you in a fun way. And a study in the British Medical Journal found this type of “good stress” lowers breast cancer risk by up to 40 percent by activating hormones that limit the growth of harmful cells.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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