I read somewhere that today, Thursday 31st March, is “feel a boob day”. Whether my sources are accurate or not, is really irrelevant, as I believe that we’d all be better off if every day were “feel a boob day”. Breast health is a serious issue and one that is often overlooked so please do yourself and all the women in your life a favor by reading or forwarding this information on. (and while you’re at it, why not send it to all the men in your life too, as they will be able to forward it to their female loved ones.)
A little while ago I was fortunate to meet Jo Firth from Safe Breast Imaging, a company that works with leading holistic doctors and naturopaths to offer a comfortable and non-invasive form of breast imaging to women of all ages. Safe Breast Imaging is NOT a mammogram! No squeezing! No radiation! Here’s what Jo has to say regarding breast health …
Do you have sore, tender, lumpy, fibrocystic, hormonal breasts? Of all the breast conditions we see, congested breast tissue would be present in the majority of women.
How do we get it?
The milk-secreting portion of your breast is composed of glandular cells that drain into lactiferous ducts. Premenstrually, these cells increase in size and number and the ducts themselves widen. Your breasts may become increasingly lumpy, swollen and tender as menstruation approaches. For some, this only lasts for a day or two; for others, it can be weeks of discomfort. Still others may find that their breast pain has no pattern. It tends to wax and wane.
Our breasts are also very sensitive to hormonal changes. This can result in fibrocystic breast changes with areas of dense, thick breast tissue, cysts, and breast lumps. High fat and high carbohydrate diets increase oestrogen levels that contribute to breast pain. Women with high levels of body fat have an additional problem, as fat actually manufactures oestrogen.
Caffeine is also a major cause of breast pain in women. Sources include coffee, tea, chocolate, cola and energy drinks.
Over time, too, we build up thickened tissue, scar tissue from mastitis or injury, accumulate toxins and heavy metals. Circulation and lymph flow can become less effective over time causing pain and tenderness.
What can we do about it?
Generally speaking, multiple lumps that fluctuate in size with the menstrual cycle are highly unlikely to be cancerous. If you are concerned, see your doctor. Changes in the breast skin or nipple or an isolated non-tender lump also merit a visit to your doctor. Congestion causing tenderness may not show up on a mammogram.
1. Have regular imaging to check on your breast congestion, which may increase your risk. Safe Breast Imaging can clearly show you how congested your breasts are.
2. Do the “Breast Bounce”: Hold your bra straps and jiggle up and down to get some bounce happening in your breasts. This will create movement. Do any time.
3. Diet should consist of a Mediterranean type diet that consists of meals high in good-quality fruits and vegetables, low in red meats, sugars, and white flour, with moderate amounts of good-quality protein.
4. If you regularly consume dairy or animal products, buy organic products to minimize exposure to added hormones.
5. Take good quality supplements such as Vitamin D, essential fatty acids, Vitamin B-complex, selenium, iodine.
6. Exercise, such as walking or light running, has been found to help.
7. Nurture your adrenals by decreasing the triggers for adrenalin or other stress hormone release through deep relaxation with meditation. Ensure restful sleep.
8. Although research support is not yet in place, common sense and clinical experience point to massage therapy in promoting breast health. Massage therapy is an effective “wellness” treatment for breasts, as breasts particularly need good circulation and tissue mobilisation for optimum health. Massage can also significantly reduce your cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase your immune system. Imagine your breast is like a fist, clenched tightly. Cysts, toxins, hormonal tissue gets trapped and stagnates. Breast massage will open up your breast tissue, like unclenching your hand and opening your fingers. This will assist in improving circulation to introduce oxygen and nutrients in and toxins and congestion out of the breast.
Do you get breast problems regularly? Do you live with lumpy tender breasts? Have you had a long history of breast issues? Our breasts are like a health indicator. They are dynamic, hormonal and reflect our state of health.
What conditions do we see?
Fibrocystic tissue – lumpy, painful, full, congested, cyclical. Can last years. Benign condition, reflection of not clearing out the toxins and hormones in the breast. Affected by lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, exhaustion. Benign condition. Raises susceptibility.
Glandular hormonal tissue – swollen, tender/painful breasts, cyclical. Reflects hormonal imbalance, often oestrogen dominance. You may also have a history of thyroid issues, endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion. Increased risk.
Discharge – can be clear, milky, yellow, green, brown, red. May be spontaneous or when squeezed. May be due to infection, stimulation, blocked duct, papilloma, medication (eg antidepressants). Usually benign and rarely, breast cancer. Can be present for years.
Inversion – one or both nipples. Can be there permanently, or in one/both breasts suddenly. If an inversion occurs suddenly in one nipple, may indicate a possible breast cancer.
Change of Shape – dimple, hollow, pucker in one part of one breast. May indicate cancer. Saggyness not counted.
Breastfeeding problems – recurrent severe mastitis can cause scarring and weakness in the breast tissue. If you have a baby who suddenly stopped feeding from one breast, or had children who refused to feed from one breast, this may indicate a possible chemical change. Both increase susceptibility.
History of breast issues – long term issues where one breast behaves differently to the other breast. Often may not show up on a mammogram. Increases susceptibility.
Breast operations – cosmetic, benign or malignant conditions. Can interfere with normal vascular and lymph drainage. Increases susceptibility.
Management: Do something to improve your breast health. Have an annual clinical exam with your doctor, check your breast health with regular breast imaging, do vigorous breast massage and work with your wellness practitioner to keep your risk low. Improve your diet – eliminate/reduce grains, sugars, caffeine, dairy. Increase vegetables, fruit, super foods. Release stress, exercise, be happy, sleep well.