We have everything you need to know about breasts, whether you're an A cup or sporting DDs
The booty is definitely having a moment, with Hollywood being “all about that bass” these days. We’re bucking the trend and asking you to draw your attention up top. Whether you’re an A or F cup, acquainting yourself with the inner-workings of your breasts and what keeps them healthy on the inside and outside will give you a whole new appreciation for your number one bosom buddy. (Also, learn the 15 Everyday Things That Can Change Your Breasts.)
Typically, you’d have to shed a steep amount of weight for noticeable shrinkage. To drop one cup size, a woman of average height and band size would need to lose 20 percent of her body weight, an American Journal of Human Biology study reveals. Steep. “As most women know, only a portion of weight loss affects the breast volume,” says Hooman Soltanian, M.D., interim chair of the department of plastic surgery at Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. “However, in patients with massive weight loss, the volume of the breasts can decrease significantly.” But there’s a downside to this: The shape of the breasts can become droopy because the skin and supportive structures of the breast are stretched out, explains Soltanian. This is all good news for those worried that cutting cals will diminish cleavage, but not so great if you’re uncomfortably busty and want a nonsurgical fix.
Forty to 50 percent of women who undergo mammograms have dense breasts—meaning you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and less fatty tissue, reports a recent New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) paper. It also means your risk of breast cancer is doubled, and it's harder to spot cancer on standard mammograms. And your M.D. doesn't have to tell you your girls are packed tight—which is why 21 states (so far) have adopted some type of breast-density legislation, including transparency with your doc and extra screenings, reports the NEJM paper. But a number of health professionals worry these laws and legislations may lead to unnecessary procedures, false positives, and patient anxiety.
While it’s all being figured out, keep getting your mammograms. And if you know you do have dense breasts, ask if your practice offers newer 3D mammography, which has improved cancer detection in dense breasts, says Priscilla Slanetz, M.D., co-author of the NEJM article.
Self-stimulation of the nipple activates the same regions of the brain’s sensory cortex as genital stimulation does, reports The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Once those regions are lit up, cells likely set off similar sexual responses in the body (including the potential for orgasm), no matter what the source of stimulation. (Crazy right? You won't believe these 4 Non-Sexual Things That Can Make You Orgasm.)
We’re diligent about moisturizing and sunscreening our faces—but our breasts, not so much. In an Aesthetic Surgery Journal study of over 300 women, those who moisturized their chests daily were perceived to have younger-looking breasts, by way of significantly fewer wrinkles as well as less stretch marks. “The water content of skin decreases with aging, and moisturizing may increase that water content,” says Soltanian, author of the research. Another potential anti-ager implied by the research is shielding your breasts from UV rays, so shade yourself and slather broad protection sunscreen around those super-skimpy bikini tops. It seems that sun exposure—though it’s unclear just how much—could compromise the elasticity of the breasts’ supporting ligaments, increasing the likelihood of wrinkling and sagging.
Look in the mirror and identical twins aren’t necessarily going to be staring back at you. Small differences in size and shape are common. In fact, a study in the Annals of Plastic Surgery found the left breast to be larger in 62 percent of women. Possibly lesser known is that one areola may be lower than the other, says Michelle Berlin, M.D., vice chair of the department of ob-gyn and co-director of the Center for Women’s Health at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. “We’re not entirely symmetrical creatures, so we can’t expect everything to look the same from left to right. But if there’s a big discordance between the breasts or something changes a lot in appearance, women should see their doctor," Berlin explains.
Breast lift procedures are up 70 percent since 2000, reports The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Sagging is a big concern for women and an inevitable part of life (age, pregnancies, and gravity all play a role). While infomercials may say otherwise, there’s no exercise that can prevent breast tissue from sagging. "But moves that improve posture and strengthen the muscles beneath the breast tissue can perk up the bustline’s appearance,” says Shirley Archer, certified personal trainer and author of Busting Out: Putting Your Best Breasts Forward. Weak back muscles and tight shoulders can lead to rounded, slouched posture, and a chest that looks collapsed, says Archer, who suggests push-ups and chest-opening stretches to straighten up. Then add exercises that target the upper part of the pectorals, such as chest rows with dumbbells, to approach strengthening and lifting from underneath. (We have an awesome Chest Workout: 6 Moves to Perk Up Your Boobs.)
With the constant ciruclation of reports on potential culprits, you've probably thought, “What doesn’t cause breast cancer?” To erase any unnecessary paranoia, here are some factors rumored to have links to breast cancer, but that, according to the Susan G. Komen organization have not been found—through solid studies on humans—to raise your risk: bras (including underwire styles); caffeine or coffee intake; cell phones; deodorant or antiperspirant use; and breast implants (note: a link between implants and a rare cancer of immune system cells, called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, is being probed). For the full list of wrongly-accused items, check the organization's website.