PERSONAL HEALTH STORY: Fibrocystic Breasts
Jennifer, who just turned 39, had started to examine her breasts monthly because her mother Kate, 63, is a recent breast cancer survivor. One morning, Jennifer felt a slightly painful firm lump on the underside of her left breast. She froze. Then she called her mother. Kate told her to get it examined as soon as she could, but not to worry since many lumps turn out to be abscesses.
When Jennifer saw her family doctor, he said he thought it was nothing serious. But since the lump wasn’t as mobile – or movable with a finger – as common and benign fibroadenoma lumps, and since Jennifer didn’t think that the lump became more sensitive during menstruation, which would have been a good sign that it probably wasn’t serious, he sent her to get further tests.
Jennifer’s (and Kate’s) worry thankfully turned out to be unfounded. The diagnosis was fibrocystic breast disease. Fibrocystic breast lumps are common, noncancerous and not harmful, but may be uncomfortable. These tumours can get larger or smaller but often go away or become less noticeable after menopause. Jennifer’s doctor told her that this condition is, in some research, found to be associated with high “unopposed” estrogen (meaning estrogen not balanced well with progesterone).
When she asked if she could take anything to help reduce it, her doctor didn’t have suggestions, but said that drinking a lot of caffeine might increase the size and number of these fibro-cysts so Jennifer decided to reduce her three-cup-a-day habit to just one cup of coffee or black tea. She also decided to do some more research online.
Here is what she found: