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:

  • Fibrocystic breast tumours, and overly high estrogen, might be associated with low iodine and with lack of vitamin D since both protect the breast against the effects of estrogen. Jennifer found a good iodine supplement in a tincture, and started taking 2000 IUs of vitamin D daily.
  • There are two types of breast cancer, and about half of cases are estrogen sensitive (high unopposed estrogen), including her mother’s type.
  • Xenoestrogens – carcinogens that mimic estrogen – that enter the body are stored in fatty tissue in the breast and other areas. They’re in plastic food containers (that should never be heated), 44-MBC and benzophenone in sunscreen lotion, parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben) in skincare and haircare products, phthalates (plasticizers), and BHA and BHT that are common preservatives found in packaged and canned foods.
  • Lowering the sugar and animal fat in your diet might help to balance estrogen and reduce body fat. High sugar and excess weight have been linked to breast lumps. Choosing a high fibre diet with lots of organic vegetables rich in phytoestrogens, reducing dairy intake, and making sure you have daily bowel movements so toxins don’t build up in your system are important for prevention.
  • In anecdotal evidence, taking omega 3 essential fatty acids, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and silica supplements may help to shrink growths.

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