Healthy Breasts

An important aspect of wellness and radiant health, which of course includes
healthy breasts, is POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Some women have said to me, “I
don’t want to check my breasts for lumps every month; that seems very negative.”
The idea is not to set out to look for lumps, but to check in with your
breasts, tenderly and regularly. Maybe after a warm bath, standing naked
and admiring yourself in front of a mirror. Gently hold your breasts and
start by a greeting, “Hey there, girls; just checking in. Anything
you want to tell me?” This ritual is not only sensual and entertaining,
but very helpful in giving your body the message that you care about yourself.

A diet for healthy breasts includes plenty of water, restful sleep, adequate
intake of essential fatty acids, very limited intake of other fats, easy
on the chocolate, and plenty of kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, collard
greens, squash, organic carrots, seasonal fruit. All that good stuff. For
young mothers or mothers to be, please breastfeed, or plan to. There is
no better nutrition for your infant. Breast- feeding is an acquired skill
for both mother and child; please contact your local La Leche League if
it doesn’t seem to be working right. Many women need coaching on this skill.
Some women experience postpartum mastitis, a painful bacterial infection
of the milk ducts. Maintaining the nursing schedule as much as possible
is best for both mother and child, unless the mom needs to take a course
of antibiotics. One of the very best treatments for mastitis is to apply
a fresh carrot poultice to the infected breast, all the way up into the
armpit, and leave on for an hour, covered with a hot water bottle. A fresh
poultice should be applied several times daily until the infection is resolved.

Good health is dependent on a functioning immune system. Our immune system
is designed to combat bacteria, viruses, fungi (such as Candida) and cancer
cells. All of these pathogens cause genetic damage which lead to disease,
from the common cold to the formation of tumors. However, our immune system
will only work if we feed it the proper nutrients. When we eat the “right
foods” we will have all of the ingredients to both nourish the body
and maintain the strength of the immune system at an effective level. Is
it possible for healthy women with a “normal” immune system to
get cancer? YES! It happens all the time. “Healthy” women in the
U.S. get breast cancer at a five times higher rate than healthy women in
Asian cultures. When Japanese women move to the United States, their incidence
of breast diseases increases, and in their daughters it increases even more.

The difference has been proven to be in the differing diets of the two groups.
The immune system does not manufacture anti-cancer agents. The immune system
uses anti-cancer agents that are within the foods we eat as “bullets”
to both kill cancer cells and prevent the formation of tumors. For example,
watercress, cabbage, brussels sprouts, spinach and horseradish contain compounds
which have been proven to prevent certain kinds of cancer. In high doses,
these compounds, known collectively as isothiocyanates, inhibit the production
of cancer by 100% (according to Gary Stoner, director of pathology at the
Medical College of Ohio). These compounds do not destroy growing tumors,
but prevent the genetic damage that leads to the initiation of cancerous
growth. Soybean protein also contains anti-cancer agents; in fact it contains
five anti-cancer compounds. (See the work of Stephen Barnes, PhD, Research
Scientist, UAB Cancer Center, Orlando, FL). In a 1990 study at the University
of Alabama at Birmingham, laboratory rats given a soybean diet developed
70% fewer breast tumors than rats who got no soy in the diet. Soy flour,
soy milk and tofu are higher in protein than most meats, and, of course,
contain no animal fats.

We all know by now that animal fat
is highly correlated to free radical damage by lipid peroxidation, which
leads to tissue destruction and breakdown of the immune system. Now for
some even harder facts. In a new report, the American Cancer Society says
1 in 9 American women will develop breast cancer. This is a significant
increase over the previous statistics of 1 in 10. The U.S. Government General
Accounting Office recently released a report which stated that “there
has been no progress in preventing breast cancer since 1971.” Seventy
percent of women who get breast cancer have NO family history of it. Up
to 80% of women who get breast cancer have no risk factors at all. As many
have type A blood, which needs more research in order to alert women and
their physicians of this “risk” factor. (See the work of James
and Peter D’Adamo on paleoserology.) Documented, external risk factors include
radiation (especially at a young age), hormone replacement therapy (the
“Pill” and estrogen for post-menopausal women), and diet, especially
fat, alcohol and refined sugars.

Breast cancer is a feminist issue; there
has been woefully little federal money assigned to further research. The
recent tamoxifen study, which proclaims the toxic drug a tool for preventing
breast cancer, seems to be yet another ploy by the pharmaceutical industry
to get women “hooked” for life. (Please see National Women’s Health
Network newsletter, Vol. 5/breast health 16, #4, Fall 1991). One more note
on breast cancer; a little known fact relevant to women who are good candidates
for surgical tumor removal or lumpectomies. Several studies show that women
who have surgeries performed between the first and the twelfth day of the
menstrual cycle have GREATER recurrence rates than do women who have their
surgeries after the twelfth day. Although many surgeons may not want their
schedules dictated by this finding, women will want to have as many factors
in their favor as possible. The level of estrogen in the body is an influential
factor that is often ignored. (Badwe, RA, et al. Lancet; May 25, 1991, 337:1261-1264).
Other hormonal risk factors in breast cancer include age at first period,
first pregnancy, and menopause. Early menarche and late menopause confer
a greater risk. The younger the woman at the time of her first birth, the
lower her risk for breast cancer. However, women who deliver their first
child after age 30 are at more risk than nulliparous women. (Danforth’s
Obstetrics and Gynecology, published by Lippincott, 1990). All women should
receive a baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40, or younger if
indicated by risk factors (American Cancer Association guidelines, 1992).
Also, please don’t think that your own breast self exams, while important,
are adequate as a preventive measure to a serious breast disease.

cancer, for example, grows very slowly. It cannot be detected on a mammogram
for seven to eight years, and 6/breast health a lump would not be detected
in a breast exam by a physician for eight to ten years. Because breast cancer
grows slowly, the diagnosis is rarely an emergency. Make sure to explore
as many professional opinions as possible before deciding on a course of
therapy. Women should not feel rushed into making decisions that will affect
the rest of their lives. Another common breast “disease” is the
so-called fibrocystic breast disease. According to Dr. Susan Love, director
of the Faulkner Hospital Breast Center, staff member at the Dana Farber
Cancer Institute and author of “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book,”
FBD is a “garbage term” that has no meaning. “It’s not a
disease, simply a term for any of a variety of non-cancerous conditions
in the breast,” she says. “Having it is normal.” Radiologists,
for example, refer to dense breast tissue as fibrocystic disease, yet it
is not necessarily related to lumps or what can be seen under the microscope.
The consequences of this misleading definition is that research on benign
breast disease is “terrible.” Her own studies have shown that
in the majority of cases, fibrocystic disease is not related to a later
cancer. However, Love points out, there are legitimate benign breast problems:
swelling and tenderness, mastalgia (severe pain), nodularity (lumpiness),
dominant lumps, infection, inflammation, and nipple discharge. Each condition
has a different physiology and must be studied separately.

However, it is safe to say that all these symptoms can be helped with nutrition.
Besides the usual low-fat, high- fiber, plenty of raw foods diet the following
supplements may be helpful: CoEnzyme Q 10 (a powerful antioxidant, which
prevents free radical damage), Germanium (a fast-acting pain killer and
tissue oxygenating agent), Kelp (for iodine, the lack of which has been
linked to benign breast diseases), Vitamin E, and of course the adequate
doses of C, B-complex and beta-carotene. (More info in “A Prescription
for Nutritional Healing” by James and Phyllis Balch, Avery Publishing
Group, NYC). Good nutrition, positive attitude and clean living will go
a long way to keep your breasts healthy. But please have them examined by
a physician annually, and explore other options thoroughly before doing drugs.
For further information on breast cancer, consult The Breast Cancer Coalition,
a national clearinghouse, at (708) 799-8338. Another good resource for women’s
health is “The New Our Bodies, Ourselves,” published by Simon
and Schuster.

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Written by Emily Kane ND

Explore Wellness in 2021