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15 Surprising Facts About Breasts & Breast Health

15 Surprising Facts About Breasts & Breast Health

On breast growth. Breasts normally grow for about two to four years after a girl gets her first period when they reach their natural size. However, breast size can waver during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, taking birth control, or gaining/losing weight.

In most women, the left breast is slightly larger than the right. Very few women have perfectly symmetrical breasts. A slight difference in size (up to 20%) between the right and left breast is normal. Sudden changes are not, though, and are reasons to talk to your doctor.

Breast cancer is the second deadliest cancer for women. Lung cancer is the first.

Men can get breast cancer too. There are an average of 2,300 cases of breast cancer among men annually. Peter Criss from the band Kiss is a breast cancer survivor.

Breastfeeding rates are on the rise, increasing by an average of 2% points per year, according to the CDC. Breastfeeding is most prevalent in the West: Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California contain the largest percentage of mothers nursing for the highest number of months. The Southern states Mississippi, Louisiana, and West Virginia have the lowest percentage.

Breast augmentation with implants (silicone or saline) is still the most popular plastic surgery procedure for women. The American Society for Plastic Surgery reported that almost 300,000 augmentations with implants had been done in 2019. However, the number of breast “lifts,” or mammoplasty procedures (to improve the looks of breasts without using an implant), is growing at twice the rate of implant procedures.

Breast cancer can happen to anyone. Famous women who have battled breast cancer include Gloria Steinem, Dawn Upshaw, Betty Ford, Judy Blume, Sheryl Crow, Kylie Monogue, Olivia Newton-John, Melissa Etheridge, Hoda Kotb, Robin Roberts, Joan Lunden, Giuliana Rancic, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Carly Fiorina, Brigitte Bardot, Suzanne Somers, Kathy Bates, Ann Jillian, and Kate Jackson.

Early detection is critical. When breast cancer is detected early, survival rates jump.  You should have a clinical breast exam done by your doctor every three years in your thirties. You should have a mammogram each year starting at age 40. More intensive screening is advisable for those at high risk due to family history.

Breasts are not all fat. They are a complex system of glands and ducts, which also include your nipple. And underneath each breast is a muscle, as well as fibrous tissue that separates it from your ribs. However, after a certain age, your breasts do turn into mostly fat.

Nearly 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of the disease. On the flip side, it is estimated that 12-15% of inherited mutations related to breast cancer can be attributed to BRCA or PALB genes which can be detected.

Survival rates from breast cancer have been steadily improving. According to aggregated data by the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results), breast cancer deaths have decreased by over 40% since 1989.

Stomach sleepers may sag quicker. Unless you have augmentation surgery, getting older means your breasts will droop over time. Other culprits include gravity, smoking, and sleeping. In fact, if you’re a stomach sleeper, you might consider changing positions. Some reports show that sleeping on your stomach can actually change the shape of your breasts.

We are the only primates with permanent breasts. As humans, we grow breasts even before puberty, and they continue growing and changing throughout our lives. However, other primates’ breasts grow only when they’re breastfeeding.

In 1998, President Clinton signed into law the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, which ensures that if a woman’s health plan covers mastectomy surgery, it must cover all stages of reconstruction to both the breast with cancer and the breast without cancer, if desired.

Ogden Clinic has a fully integrated breast health team that includes women’s health providers, state-of-the-art mammography technology, and general surgeons for every step of breast cancer detection and treatment. We also have lactation counselors who help new mothers struggling to breastfeed.

To schedule your annual mammogram or another health visit, click here.