Most people know that 40 is the new 30 and that it also marks the beginning - for some - of being a cougar. But 40 is also the age that women need to start getting mammograms done. If you're familiar with the mammogram - kudos to you! If you're not, here are a few basics that will help you know a little more about the best way to take care of your body and health.
There are many factors that affect one's risk of getting breast cancer (PDF). These factors may include your age, whether your family has a history of breast or ovarian cancer, your race (there are more incidences of breast cancer among white women than any race, but black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than any other race), your childbearing history (women who have not birthed children or who birth children in their 30s or 40s are at a higher risk), using hormone replacement therapy and your personal history with the disease.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of death for women while heart disease remains number one. Given all this, it's important for women to have regular mammograms, which are used to help detect early signs of breast cancer.
A mammography machine is used to take two different x-rays views of each breast. If you're trying to get a visual of the experience, your breast will get placed on a plastic plate and is pressed with another plate above her breast. It can hurt sometimes, though the pain will subside quickly, and is usually just uncomfortable for a few minutes because of the pressure. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have, and inform them of any surgery that you've had done to your breasts.
If you're still in your 20s, you should learn about and consider performing breast self-exams. While this is by no means a replacement for x-ray detection, it's good to have a regular way of checking if your breasts feel different.