Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Singapore today, with one out of 13 women likely to be afflicted by it. 

Breast cancer often happens in women with no risk factors, but you can help yourself by adopting the following habits all year long for optimum breast health: observe, self-examine, screen.

Although most lifestyle factors influence risk of breast cancer only to a minor extent, here are some tips to keep your breasts and your body healthy.

7 Tips for lifelong breast health

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight
    Maintain a BMI less than 23 throughout your life. Weight gain and obesity may increase your risk of breast cancer.

  2. Make time for regular exercise
    Adopt an active lifestyle. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity at least five days per week.

  3. Minimise or avoid alcohol
    Alcohol is one of the most well established dietary risk factor for breast cancer. Women who consume more than two glasses of alcohol a day are at higher risk.

  4. Eat more veggies
    Consume more cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), dark leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries and cherries.

  5. Target motherhood
    Target to have your first child before 30. Mothers who breastfeed their babies for six months or longer may have a slightly lower risk of developing breast cancer.

  6. Early detection is your best protection
    Breast self-examination is recomended once a month about 1 week from the first day of menses. For women who no longer menstruate, choosing a date each month is an easy way to remember. Be sure to notify your doctor any breast changes such as redness, swelling, presence of a lump, skin changes or discharge from the nipple. For how to perform breast self-examination, click here.
    For women between the ages of 40 to 50: a mammogram every year after consultation with their doctor
    For women above the age of 50: a mammogram once every two years

  7. Quit smoking (if you haven't)
    The risk of many cancers, including breast cancer, and other health problems increases if you smoke.

Watch for these breast cancer signs

Early detection saves lives. When breast cancer is detected early, there are more treatment options, less radical surgery required and better chances of complete recovery.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. It is usually single, firm and often painless. Other tell-tale signs include:

  • Swelling on a part of the breast or underarm;

  • A previously protruding nipple that becomes inverted;

  • A persistent rash at the nipple or areola;

  • Bloodstained discharge from the nipple; and

  • A change in the size or shape of the breast

  • A change in the colour or appearance of the skin of the breast such as redness, puckering or dimpling

Ref: Q15

Check out other articles on breast cancer:

Breast Cancer Screening: Screen for Life

Breast Cancer: Symptoms and Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Does Obesity Increase Breast Cancer Risk?

What's Next After an Abnormal Mammogram?

What Is Preventive Mastectomy?

8 Top Cancer-Fighting Foods

How a Husband Can Support His Wife If She Has Breast Cancer