You only have to look down to see your boobs, but there's probably a lot you still don't know about them. Everyone's breasts are different; from shape to size, the colour of your nipples and how perky they are. But despite that, there are some universal truths that apply to all people with boobs.
So in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we'd test your knowledge to see how much you really know about your baps/breasts/whatever you call them. Answer these eight questions, compare your answers with everyone else, and then scroll down to find out the facts with a little help from the experts.
Question: How often do your boobs change?
Answer: All the time!
"Your breasts will change naturally each month and as you get older," says Bupa UK GP Dr Samantha Wild. "They may feel tender or heavy at the end of your monthly cycle. These changes should normalise once your period starts."
The GP advises "making a note of any changes before, during and after your monthly cycle, so you’re aware of any regular changes. It’s really important to understand what’s normal – and what isn’t – for you so that you can quickly spot any irregularities."
Question: Drinking alcohol can cause breast cancer. True or false?
Out of the 55,000 cases of breast cancer that occur in the UK each year, around 8% are believed to be caused by alcohol. But concerningly, many people aren't aware of this fact. In a study of women attending a breast screening clinic in the United Kingdom, only 19% were aware that alcohol consumption is a breast cancer risk factor.
"Breast cancer has many causes, and some are out of our control. Alcohol is one of the few causes we do have some control over. No matter how much we drink, cutting down will help reduce our risk of breast cancer," notes Elaine Hindal, chief executive at Drinkaware.
Question: How many women have inverted nipples?
Answer: Between 10-20%.
Here's the thing: it's completely normal! As is having big nipples or small ones; bumpy ones or hairy ones. "Because of an increasingly visual culture, meaning the proliferation of social media images and the fascination with selfies (which are often digitally manipulated), we have distorted the ideals of a 'normal' body image," Harley Street plastic surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer told Cosmopolitan.
The one thing you should watch out for, however, is any changes to your nipples. "Signs of breast cancer include changes to your nipple, nipple discharge or nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened," explains Dr Wild.
Question: How often should you check your breasts?
One in four women don't check their breasts regularly, but that's not a mistake we should be making. "It’s really important to be breast aware and to check your breasts regularly – as a general guide, aim for at least once a month," says Dr Wild. "Do it as often as you feel you need to do so, though, as this can help you spot any changes quickly. Any changes to your breast to how they feel, or look should be noticed and reported to your GP, as soon as possible."
Watch our video below for a guide on how to check your breasts for signs of breast cancer.
Question: People with small boobs can't get breast cancer. True or false?
As podcast presenter Lauren Mahon told Cosmopolitan, this is a myth she used to believe - before she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. "In my head I believed you have to have a significant amount of breast tissue to get breast cancer. I thought that was a thing. It was just literally my logic."
Luckily, Lauren is now cancer-free after undergoing chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. But because her cancer was triggered by hormones, she's had to have early menopause triggered in a bid to prevent the disease from returning.
Question: What percentage of body fat does the average breast take up?
Fun fact: A pair of D-cup breasts can weigh anything between 15 and 23 pounds (that's over a stone).
Question: How many calories can you burn per day if you breastfeed full time?
Answer: "If you are exclusively breastfeeding, this will help burn off about 300 calories a day," says the NHS. Experts don't advise you to eat anything special while you're breastfeeding, but do encourage a healthy diet including plenty of fruit and veg, fibre, protein, dairy, carbs, and lots of water.
Question: How many women will get breast cancer in their lifetime?
Answer: 1 in 8.
In fact, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women in the UK. But despite this, a recent Bupa report revealed one in three women felt discouraged from seeking help for breast concerns due to worries about wasting the doctor’s time or embarrassment about their symptoms.
"A lump or change to the feel or appearance of your breasts should never be ignored," urges Dr Wild. "Thankfully, only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer; but it’s important to be sure so you should always speak to your GP if you spot any changes."
So... how did you do?
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