In case you hadn’t noticed, October is breast cancer awareness month. Among other things, that means that we are blindsided with pink.
There are, of course, good reasons to promote awareness of breast cancer since it is so prevalent and can be deadly (I personally lost an aunt to breast cancer last year). But everyone is ?aware? of breast cancer, so what are we really interested in? What I am most interested in is prevention rather than an elusive ?cure.
?Prevention is, of course, important because if we do not need to cure the disease we will not have to cope with potential mal-effects of the treatment, nor deal with any pain, discomfort, or medical bills in the interim.
So, let’s talk a bit about some of the things to look out for and what you can do to help maintain wonderful breast health.
Vitamin D seems to be an anti-cancer nutrient in general. Is it just that those with higher levels often are out in the sun living healthier lifestyles? Is it something else? Maybe we aren’t sure, but we do know that there is quite a link between higher vitamin D levels and lowering your risk of breast cancer. There is a study indicating that post-menopausal women have a lower risk of breast cancer with higher blood levels of vitamin D and another stating that premenopausal women with low serum vitamin D have 3 times the breast cancer risk.
So, get some sun, eat foods that have vitamin D, whatever it takes, make sure your levels aren’t too low.
Women are very very programed to be self-sacrificing and to always put on a facade of being happy and pleasant. You know what I am talking about. How often do people tell you to smile before they even say hello to you?
Dr. Christiane Northrup is pretty much my mind/body guru when it comes to women’s health, so I am going to pull a quote from her lovely book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom:
?As far back as 1800, the medical literature has noted associations between breast cancer and loneliness, sorrow, and even rage and anger. Women with breast cancer frequently have a tendency toward self-sacrifice, inhibited sexuality, an inability to see themselves as supported by others, an inability to discharge anger and hostility, a tendency to hide anger and hostility behind a facade of pleasantness, and an unresolved hostile conflict with their mothers.
?Given our society’s tendency to suppress, ignore, or denigrate women and their anger, it is easy to see why so many women have breast problems.
Does this mean that it is your fault if you have, or get, breast cancer? NO. But there are ways that your body tried to get your attention, and bring your focus back to you and what your body needs.
Surprised? It seems that the earlier you start having children the less likely you are to get breast cancer. This is speculated to be due to the maturation process that happens to the breast tissue only after having a full term pregnancy. Your risk goes down even more with subsequent children. Here is a paper?on the increased risk of breast cancer in women with early menarche and late childbearing.
The studies are mixed. Do bras increase your odds of breast cancer? There was a study by CC Hsieh?in 1991 that found breast cancer doubled in those that wore a bra versus non-wearers, but whether that was due to breast size or not is uncertain. Breast cancer risk does tend to increase with larger breast size, but could that be due to tighter bras? Are large bosoms inherently more prone to breast cancer? My guess is that being bra free does help reduce your risk of cancer, mostly due to better blood flow and lymph drainage. If you aren’t quite ready to go bra free, don’t wear a bra at night and try to give your breasts a massage when you take off your bra. They will appreciate it :)
Hormonal contraceptive use
Your risk of breast cancer tends to increase based on the length of time using estrogen containing hormonal contraceptives. It seems that the risk is mitigated 10 years after discontinuation of the hormonal contraceptives, but research is not all clear on hormonal contraceptives and cancer. My guess would be that that is because there is a lot of money behind any research that will say there is not an association, but you can see a summation of the current research here. Ray Peat has written an excellent article on the background story of the estrogen industry as well.
Since breast cancer is associated with higher estrogen levels, and many endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen and increase estrogenic activity in the body, endocrine disruptors have been implicated in an increased risk of breast cancer. Since BPA is the main endocrine disruptor that we currently study, there is a lot of information on BPA and it’s relation to breast cancer.
Self exam note
If you want to perform self exams, do so only just after finishing your period if you are premenopausal. At other times in your cycle your breasts can be lumpier due to hormonal activity. This is natural and cyclic and will subside.
It’s also good to note that self-exams actually aren’t often recommended anymore, due to most lumps that are found being non-cancerous, cancerous lumps having to be pretty far along in order to be detected, and confusion with cyclical changes (which now that you see my earlier tip, won’t be a problem for you).
What do you think? Are you worried about breast cancer risk and what do you do to increase your breast health?
Hannah Ransom is a Fertility Awareness instructor. She teaches a live, online course on how to properly use the symptothermal method of fertility awareness as both a contraceptive method as well as a fertility-enhancing tool. There are still a handful of slots open for her next class on Saturday, October 26th . Click HERE to read more and to register for the class.
Women wear bras to bed?! Mine usually comes off right when I get home from work, hello pjs!
Use of bras while sleeping also seems to be correclated with larger breast size (<– completely unscientific, just what I have notcied/heard)
Ah, I see. Must be why I’ve never worried about that!
I usually forget to take mine off. If I can’t be bothered to get up, I just undo it.
I wear a camisole with a built in support bra. I can’t stand the “girls” flopping around and getting on my arms at night – LOL.
“Hormonal contraceptive use” <—— THIS. I've wondered this for years, and I'm only 30. I've suggested it to people and they look at me like I'm nuts. But why else would all the hormonal birth control and this huge wave of breast cancer be so "coincidental"? We didn't have this "problem" when more women used natural family planning, back in the day.
It's like all of those childrens' behavioural disorder "labels" becoming so popular, at the same time as the onslaught of mixed/multiple vaccinations during their first few years of life when the immune system is terribly susceptible, and the chemical colorings and flavorings in their food. But you won't ever find companies with enough money to fund the big studies that people can hear.
But I digress…..
Hannah said that "Breast cancer risk does tend to increase with larger breast size", so I guess I'm home free regardless ;) ;)
Arg, I have all the risk factors mentioned here. And unfortunately the BCP I took for 15 years was triphasic, which was the most associated with increased risk. I’ve done a lot of emotional work and have released a lot of anger and sadness, but I know I have the “personality” – still working on that part. I don’t doubt for a second that our mind and emotions are deeply intertwined.
Except I have small boobies..maybe that will save me :-)
I think I have the personality, too, something I work on!
Also not planning on childbearing until 30+ (probably)
Just wear bras that fit correctly and preferably don’t have an underwire :)
META-Health research on brain-psyche-stress-body link for Breast Cancer:
Breast – Duct (Cortex)
Emotions:Fear of separation from mate, child, mother, home or nest.
In the conflict phase we detect a cell loss in the mammary ducts (an ulcerative dilatation) with a sensory paralysis (Numbness) in most cases felt as a slight dragging pain in the mamma.
Regeneration Phase (Healing from the stress):
In the regeneration phase the cell growth may be diagnosed as a benign growth in the mammary ducts as a carcinoma in situ or as a malignant carcinoma of the mammary ducts. Due to the swelling of the squamous epithelium mucosa the secretion cannot run off through the occluded mammary duct. This can cause a more or less intense swelling behind the nipple (a typical finding for a carcinoma of the mammary ducts). The mamma may be inflamed, swollen and enlarged. In most cases accompanied by a hypersensitivity, absence or short term memory loss.
Breast – mammary glands
Emotions: Worry-argument or fight conflicts mostly with mate, child, mother, home, nest.
In the conflict phase we find a proliferation of the mammary glands cells which can be diagnosed as a benign fibro adenoma or as a lobular breast cancer. In most cases compact nodes are perceptible.
In the regeneration phase we see a loss of the mammary glands cells with an encapsulation of the nodes or a caseating tuberculous degradation of the nodes by micro bacteria. Typical symptom of the healing phase are an edema a painful scaring atrophy and a necrotic stinking degradation of the tumor (open breast with elimination of a stinking secretion) through the outlet of the tumor.
You mentioned early childbearing but not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease the cancer risk for all female cancers and the benefit increases the longer one breastfeeds.
Breastfeeding is definitely a big one, thanks!
This may be similar to the claim about estrogen. When breastfeeding estrogen is suppressed by oxytocin.
All these risk factors may be correlated to breast cancer but definitely do not cause breast cancer. Believe me I wish I could just follow a set of rules to completely prevent breast cancer.
My mom and grandma both had small breasts, late onset of menses, gave birth young, breast fed, ate real food, not overweight. They both had breast cancer and my mom died of it. That makes me who is the opposite, large breasts, early menstruation, no kids, somewhat overweight just a breast cancer story waiting to happen right? Sorry I just had to get that out. I feel that many of the things that are mentioned here are out of the control of the individual. I couldn’t control the cup size I turned out, nor the age I got my period. And I can’t have a kid just to get a reduced risk of breast cancer.
There are things that every woman can control though and I can and do work on vitamins and nutrition, emotional work, and lymphatic breast massage, because 34 D does not go braless in public. I hope it’s enough.
PS I think it’s also important to say no to mammograms (radiation of the breast) especially if you have dense breasts.Thermography has really helped me do more work in caring for my breasts because it reads them differently and shows me things I can work to change before breast cancer can take hold.
I think it sounds like you are doing a great job of trying to keep yourself healthy however you can.
Obviously there are things that are out of our control (I’m totally including myself here). It’s not an overnight change to change our personality or disposition, for example. It’s just good to be aware of what has been implicated and do out best with what we have.
I didn’t say “Have smaller boobs” or “bear children earlier” But that there is a correlation. Obviously, not enough research has been done on a lot of this. I mentioned large breasts only in relation to bra use, because research has said that they are not sure whether it’s the use of bras that increases risk or breast size. On top of all that, whether that has to do with just wearing a bra that doesn’t fit properly could be the actual cause. Very many things need to be examined more.
I wouldn’t have child before I wanted to just to reduce chances of breast cancer either, I just mention that it is one of the implications.
I agree about the mamograms, but of course there isn’t a lot of research out there specifically telling you to not get mamograms because they are increasing your breast cancer risk. For the purposes of this article, I tried to stick to the stuff that I could reference that wasn’t far out (even though I can be far out) just because I wanted it to be simple and straightforward.
A friend got breast cancer about 6 months after fertility treatment. She was also having annual mammograms which I understand some countries no longer recommend because seems they might be responsible for raising cancer rates. Coincidence????
Actually, I’m pretty sure fertility treatments have been proposed as a risk for breast cancer. I have seen stats on it but can’t remember where. I think because it’s a large dose of hormones, which can have effects on breast tissue (similar to why the pill can cause issues).
Yes. Artifical estrogens seem to be to blame. That is also why they generally don’t recomenned HRT anymore.
Some researchers make a distinction between bras with metal wire, versus those without. Apparently the metal wire acts like an antenna, causing chaotic energy to build up in the tissue. Also the metal wire seems to overstimulate certain meridians, eventually causing weakness in the associated organs.
Huh. I thought it just cut off more blood flow and lymph drainage to use underwire.
I just realized that may read kind of funny… The “huh” was a contemplative “huh” not a “what?” kind of “huh”
The metal antenna-effect seems to happen with dental fillings as well. This is one reason why people are advised to remove their metal fillings. Of course, the main reason is that mercury is toxic, but another reason is the antenna effect attracts chaotic energy to a location near the brain.
There is a good exercise program call T-Tapp that really causes good lymph drainage.
Yeah, T-Tapp is awesome!
I believe it’s a very big dose of estrogen. For myself what I’ve focused on in terms of reducing risk is fixing pms – I was getting very painful breasts. Vitex totally fixed that( along with heavy periods and much clotting) – I think it’s something to do with lowering prolactin.
That was a reply to the fertility treatment issue by the way!
Generally, simply in terms of hormones, your PMS is aggrevated by low progesterone levels, which means that estrogen can get the up[per hand during the latter phase of your cycle (which should be dominated by progesterone).
What I have read about breast cancer indicates (many medical doctors and the CDC also affirm) that women who have broken or hostile relationships with other women, particularly their mother or sister(s) are more likely to develop breast cancer. Reconciliation and forgiveness are essential for ensuring that on an emotional level we are preventing disease. The spirit/mind/emotion/body connection is at the core of healing most illnesses. Other preventative measures would be to stay away from “fake” foods, preservatives and well, anything not real. One of my motto’s is to keep it real. Deal with the issues, don’t stuff the feelings. Eat real. Be free to be yourself and to express your feelings. Learn to deal with emotions and to let go of bitterness. Eat plenty of butter. It is one of the essential food groups!
I just read in the magazine my healthcare plan sends (that normally goes straight into the bin) of a woman who had an elective mastectomy because Angelina Jolie did and she has similar risks. Now she says she has zero risk. I wonder about that. I also wonder about it becoming a routine way marketed to women to catch cancer before it happens. Is this not weird? Is this the next thing after hysterectomies? Would men remove a healthy piece of their bodies? (Or take hormone disrupting birth control?) Or is it mainly women who allow such a thing? And why? I can see men saying “You’re saying I should cut off my ….. ! Because of something that MIGHT happen? You think I’m crazy??”
I know what you mean, would men choose to have surgery as a preventative measure, I’m not sure, though men do get unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer on the scale that women are given unnecessary treatment for breast cancer. For men, the treatment can cause incontinence and impotence. There is no evidence to suggest that screening helps for either disease. Both cancers spread throughout the body first, before symptoms such as lumps in the breasts are diagnosable. Many people are misdiagnosed based on this widespread screening. See the book Testing Treatments which is available as a free pdf download at the James Lind Library, or cheaply as a kindle book at Amazon.
As for getting mutilating surgery to try to stop cancer before it spreads to the breast z wtf?
I think the risk of breast cancer is zero because there are no breasts to have cancer in. I do not believe it has yet been shown whether overall risk of cancer or overall mortality is decreased. I would imagine and hope someone is going to do a study on this soon enough.
Studies have been done which show that lumpectomy (ie. removing just the lump and as little surrounding tissue as is necessary) along with radiation therapy is just as effective as mastectomy (removing the whole breast, lymph nodes and sometimes part of the breastbone and some ribs) along with radiation therapy. The evidence based study which showed these results took a long time to recruit women to be part of the study, because they had to tell the women of the risks and also the fact that there may be no benefit. The women who pay to get the surgery are not told that it is no more effective (as was eventually proved).
Having breasts removed before you have a cancer diagnosis does mean you won’t get breast cancer. But you might not have got it anyway, so why go through mutilating surgery just based on fear? Or even if you are in a high risk group.
Ironic! Janet please send a link if you can, I’d love to look at that book.
The million dolars bra question.
Somehow i never end up wearing one, one of the reasons being that i hated the
feeling. My breast has changed few times size with pregnancy, breastfeeding, a bit of weight gain and loss and still got a similar shape and tightness to it, i am 38. So much about about elasticity loss.. no idea about cancer tough.