This information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Please seek appropriate advice from your health-care provider.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in women and the number two cancer of women - just behind lung cancer. Current statistics say that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. Annually, breast cancer makes up 25% of all diagnosed cancers in women.
Statistics are one thing. Sometimes they scare us. Sometimes they motivate us. Sometimes we just don’t care about them. Regardless of how you feel about statistics, regardless of how you feel about cancer, I hope you feel motivated to be proactive about your breast health. If your breasts are healthy, it’s likely you are, too.
Tips for Breast Health
Here are 17 tips to help you improve your overall health and to help keep your breasts healthy. Seventeen is a lot - so if you find you aren’t already doing most of what’s on this list, just choose a couple of them to start with.
Yes, exercise. Exercise helps in many ways. It’s good for your cardiovascular system. That in turn improves circulation to all parts of your body, including your breasts. Sending excellent nutrients into breast tissue and pulling out toxins promotes health and helps to ward off problems. Additionally, fat cells produce estrogen. Some cancers are estrogen-dependent. By exercising and keeping fat cells small, their estrogen production is reduced. The benefits of exercise as related to breast health, then, include constant low-grade detoxification and helping to regulate estrogen production from the fat cells. Aim for at least five 30-minute moderate-intensity workouts per week.
Enjoy a bit of organic dark chocolate. Women know that chocolate is like manna from heaven. A component in dark chocolate has been shown to have anti-cancer properties, especially against fast-growing cancers.(If you are interested, this company in Calgary teaches classes about making your own raw chocolate.)
Eat Your Veggies
Eat your veggies (and your fruits) but focus on the veggies! Fresh and organic is best if you are sure they are really fresh; frozen and organic is next best. Antioxidants have been found to reduce the risk of developing estrogen-receptor-negative breast tumors. These are some of the most difficult tumors to get rid of.
Drink Less Alcohol
Studies show that drinking more than three alcoholic beverages per day increases breast cancer risk by 1.5 times. Increase your cancer resistance by decreasing your alcohol consumption.
The risks associated with smoking - both for the smoker and people who inhale second-hand smoke - are well-known.
Caffeine in all forms, including decaf coffee, hot chocolate, and chocolate can really aggravate breast tissue.
Sleep is important. Melatonin helps to regulate estrogen. Your body makes melatonin only when it is dark out and/or you are sleeping. Recent research has discovered that adults actually need 9.5 hours of sleep per day. Are you getting enough?
Folate, not folic acid, is a well-known aid to repairing DNA. Damaged DNA has been implicated as the origin of some cancers. You can get folate from romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, beets, lentils, summer squash, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans. garbanzo beans, papaya, strawberries, green beans, cabbage, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, leeks, fennel, tomatoes, and green peas. With a list that long there should be no excuses for not getting enough folate.
Include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like flax seeds, walnuts, cold-water fish, and hemp hearts.
Learn how to de-stress. Whether you prefer belly breathing, watching comedies, meditating, practicing yoga, or going for long walks, de-stressing helps to keep the immune system strong. The study of psychoneuroimmunology that started in the 1970s showed us that stress weakens the immune system. We need the immune system to destroy unhealthy cells.
Get a Daily Dose of Resveratrol
Dark grapes have the antioxidant resveratrol. Resveratrol is currently showing promise because it triggers the death of some types of cancer cells.
Know your body
Know how your breasts look and feel. If something doesn’t look or feel right, take action to correct it.
Do your own breast massage to stimulate circulation and the removal of toxins, and if you find something that doesn’t belong, get it checked out. Mammograms are x-rays. If you want to avoid the increased risks that accompany this kind of radiation, do some research into thermography. Most major cities have thermography available - often in a naturopathic clinic.
If you are young enough and if it’s appropriate - have your first child before you hit 30, and breastfeed for at least six months.
Avoid underwire bras
The underwire cuts off the flow of the lymphatic fluid, which carries nutrients to all cells and takes the garbage away.
Wear the right size bra
Your breasts change size and shape through the ages and stages of life. What fit right five years ago is probably not the right fit now. If you are small-busted and your bra ‘rides up,’ it’s time to go and get professionally fitted for the right size of bra.
When you are active or exercising, wear a properly fitted sports bra. Bouncing breasts are unhappy breasts.
Antiperspirants are designed to block pores. Pores that are blocked cannot discharge toxins. Using aluminum-free deodorant is recommended. Then again, if your body is clean inside there should be little, if any, odor.
Make purified water your beverage of choice. Municipal water treatment only takes out the solid waste and kills bacteria and viruses. It does not remove chemicals and medications, many of which are xenoestrogenic. Xenoestrogens are chemicals in our environment that behave like estrogen in our bodies. Typically they have much stronger physiological actions than the natural estrogens we make ourselves. I'm not a fan of bottled water, but I do believe in point-of-use water treatment. We just recently replaced our 25-year-old reverse osmosis system with a Berkey portable water filter system and we love it
As with all health concerns, if you have a symptom that is not quite right, get it checked out by a health professional. There may be natural things you can do to bring your body back into balance!
The vast majority of breast lumps are not cancerous. They most often are simply cysts that happen with normal hormonal fluctuations, and there are things you can do, including herbal and dietary protocols, that may dissolve them.
Swelling on a part of the breast or underarm
If the swelling is simply fluid, sometimes vitamin B6, herbal blends that are rich in potassium, or a little extra magnesium will remove the fluid.
Nipple Changes are important
A previously protruding nipple that becomes inverted.
A persistent rash at the nipple or areola
Any discharge from the nipple, and especially bloodstained discharge
Change in size or shape of the breast
Change in size or shape of the breast
Any of these warning signs should be taken seriously!
Seventeen tips seems like a lot, I know. I also know many of my readers are already doing most of the things on the list. If you are missing some, choose one to implement today, add another next week, note your planned changes on a calendar to remind you, and continue to build your healthful lifestyle; after all, these 17 tips are about so much more than just breast health. We can, by being aware and continually making better choices, continue to see the incidence of breast cancer fall and enjoy even better health for the long run.