Alarmist scenario: Breast cancer.
More likely cause: Fluctuating levels of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, which can cause breast cells to expand in the latter part of the menstrual cycle.
Reality check: “Breast pain, in isolation, is almost never cancer,” says oncologist Richard Elledge, an associate professor of medicine at the Breast Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. “You don’t need to worry,” he says, “unless you have symptoms, such as new lumps, that don’t come and go with menstruation; changes in the color or some other appearance of the skin over the breasts; or bloody discharge from the nipples.”
Rx: If breast pain is a frequent problem, limit yourself to two cups of caffeinated beverages a day. “Some women find that cutting back reduces discomfort,” says Elledge. If the pain persists, ask a doctor about danazol, a synthetic steroid that reduces hormonal fluctuations.