October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month — a great time to schedule that mammogram you may have been putting off. If anxiety about possible discomfort has kept you from picking up the phone, try these tips.

■ Hold off on caffeine. Caffeine has a tendency to make a woman’s breasts tender and lumpy, potentially making the mammogram uncomfortable. Avoid drinking coffee and tea, unless it’s decaffeinated, for a week prior to a mammogram. Other items containing caffeine include diet drinks, chocolate and even some common over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Be sure to read the label of any OTC medications before you take them prior to a scheduled mammogram.

■ Check your calendar. “Most women’s breasts are naturally more tender or slightly swollen during the week prior to their menstrual period,” says Alicia Starr, M.D., medical director at Baylor Regional Medical Center’s Women’s Imaging Center. “Try to avoid scheduling your annual mammogram during this time.”

— Source: Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, Texas


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