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A Lifetime of Healthy Breasts

A guide to keeping your breasts healthy now and in the years to come.
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Worried About Breast Sagging? continued...

In fact, one 2007 study presented at an American Society of Plastic Surgeons conference exonerated breastfeeding. But it named other culprits that contribute to sagging: larger pre-pregnancy bra cup size, greater number of pregnancies, cigarette smoking (which can weaken skin elasticity), and older age.

As the years go by, breasts become less glandular and fattier, which makes them less firm. Another factor is the stretching of fibrous bands in the breast called Cooper's ligaments. "They're fibrous tissue that holds the breast up a bit, and those can stretch over time, and that leads to some of the sagging, too," Downey says. Hence the term "Cooper's droopers."

Experts tell WebMD you can't do much to slow or prevent sagging. Because the breasts contain no muscles, you can't really exercise your way to a perkier chest.

However, some doctors advise women to wear sports bras during jogging to prevent bouncing that can stretch the ligaments. "Wearing a tight-fitting bra on a regular basis probably doesn't make a big difference," Downey says, "but wearing a bra that prevents a lot of bouncing, like with jogging, probably does minimize stretching of those fibrous bands."

Low Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer is uncommon; women aged 30-39 have a risk of only one in 229 of being diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Unless there's a strong family history of breast cancer, women in their 30s don't need mammogram screening. In fact, younger women's denser breast tissue makes it harder to detect breast cancers on mammograms.

However, regular manual breast exams by your doctor are crucial to check for lumps, skin dimpling, and other signs of breast cancer, according to experts.

Furthermore, Downey urges women in their 30s to report lasting breast changes or pain to their doctors. "Many of these things that cause breast pain in young women are going to turn out to be benign, but there are breast cancers that happen in young women," Downey says. "My advice is, just because you're young and you're less likely to have a cancer doesn't mean that you shouldn't get it looked at."

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