by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP
This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant for educational purposes only. Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health, and Nature’s Sunshine Products accept no responsibility for results you get, whether good or bad, from using this information. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.
We all know that breast cancer is the number two cancer killer of women – just behind lung cancer. And we all know that current statistics say that one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. Did you also know that the incidence of breast cancer is falling? Yes! And that’s good news! The fall coincides with the general decrease in the use of hormone replacement therapy.
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, so are you, and vice versa.
Here are 20 tips you can start implementing today to improve your overall health and to help keep your breasts healthy.
- Exercise. Yes, exercise. Exercise helps in many ways. We all know 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 a class about making your own raw chocolate.)
- 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. Anti-oxidants 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.
- Quit smoking. We all know the risks associated with smoking – both for the smoker and people who inhale second-hand smoke.
- Avoid caffeine, including decaf coffee, hot chocolate, and large quantities of non-organic chocolate. Caffeine 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?
- Folic acid is a well-known aid to repairing DNA. Damaged DNA has been implicated as the origin of some cancers. You can get folic acid (also known as 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.1
- 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.
- Dark grapes have the antioxidant resveratrol. Resveratrol is currently showing promise because it triggers the death 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.
- Maintain healthy weight. Fat cells create estrogen. Estrogen in the right amount is not a bad thing at all. In elevated amounts it can make you put on weight and stimulate estrogen-dependent cancers to grow faster.
- 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 in to all of the 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 a proper fitting.
- When you are active, which I know you are all doing for 150 minutes each week (see point number one above), wear a properly fitted sports bra. Bouncing breasts are unhappy breasts.
- Avoid antiperspirants. 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.2 (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, 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!
- Lump. The vast majority of lumps in the breast are not cancerous. They most often are simply cysts that happen with normal hormonal fluctuations, and there are many things you can do that can quickly dissolve them, especially if they are not cancerous.
- Swelling on a part of the breast or underarm. If the swelling is simply fluid, sometimes vitamin B6, Potas, or a little extra magnesium will remove the fluid.
- A previously protruding nipple that becomes inverted.
- A persistent rash at the nipple or areola.
- Bloodstained discharge from the nipple.
- Change in size or shape of the breast.
Twenty 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 20 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.
If you have concerns about your breast health, or just don’t know where to begin making improvements with your general health, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available.
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Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).