“I’ve often thought that breast health was something to worry about later in life. But after a diagnosis of 10 fibroids and one phyllodes tumor at the age of 27, I realized this couldn’t be further from the truth. The earlier we start to look after ourselves, and implement healthy habits, the better our chances of a healthy and disease-free future.”
After spending much time reading stories like this on Blood + Milk and other informative, educational articles from inspiring women like Dr. Christiane Northrup, it’s reminded us yet again of the importance to prioritize breast health and share these pertinent bits of knowledge and practices with others — especially in light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
While the pink ribbon raises awareness, our intention is to educate and inform our community on preventative measures that can be taken now, rather than selling you on a pink ribbon adorned product for the sake of profit. Pinkwashing, as it’s known, is just not our thing. Sharing information supported by fact-based evidence that may support your lifestyle habits and genuine wellbeing is.
First and foremost, we must stress the role that hormones play in breast health. Breast cancer and other breast-related symptoms (such as fibroids, tumors, cystic breasts, and even tenderness and swelling related to PMS) are estrogenic, therefore taking measures to reduce exposure to endocrine disruptors helps in decreasing estrogen overload (re: estrogenic breasts). Since our breasts are primarily composed of fatty tissue, they tend to store fat-soluble toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, chlorine, and parabens. Luckily, our bodies have the innate intelligence that allows our breast cells to regenerate — however, the toxins and chemicals that are absorbed directly through the skin may accumulate in our lymph nodes and glands, therefore disrupting hormone function that may lead to estrogenic diseases that cancer cells feed on.
SWITCH TO A “FREE-FROM” DEODORANT
Most drugstore deodorants contain chemicals like parabens, petrolatum, talc and aluminum. Since the skin in our armpit region is very thin, those toxic chemicals are directly absorbed into breast tissue via lymph accumulation. No thanks. Look for a free-from deodorant that does not contain the following:
aluminum – changes your estrogen receptors; linked to liver, kidney and brain issues
carcinogens – substances that can lead to cancer
parabens – mimic estrogen in the body; cause cancer
phthalates – interfere with, mimic, or block hormones
propylene glycol – considered a neurotoxin; known to cause liver and kidney damage
SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMIN D + MAGNESIUM
Studies show that women with optimal levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of breast cancer. Yet most modern lifestyles have us spending much more time indoors, depriving us of exposure to natural sunlight — an essential source of daily Vitamin D. In that case, supplementation may be necessary to help maintain optimal levels (60-80 ng/ml is optimal). Test, don’t guess. According to Dr. Northrup: “Ask for your actual vitamin D level. Don’t settle for “it’s normal” as an answer. If it’s in the suboptimal range, talk with your doctor and come up with the best strategy for raising your levels of this important nutrient. Be prepared to take up to 50,000 IUs per week until your levels are high enough and then 1,000–5,000 IUs per day after that.”
Another important nutrient in promoting breast health is magnesium, however the majority of women are deficient. Magnesium supports the liver’s ability to metabolize excess estrogen, enhance Vitamin D absorption, and relax the body — especially when under heightened stress, since stress has the tendency to deplete the body of necessary nutrients and throw hormones way out of whack. For supplementation, look for Magnesium Glycinate, as its a more bioavailable form of magnesium, and consider magnesium bath soaks and floats.
MASSAGE YOUR BREASTS (DAILY IF POSSIBLE)
Using a daily breast massage oil to gently massage the breasts helps to promote lymphatic drainage, encouraging the movement of chemicals through the lymph system and therefore out of the body. Massage inward and upward in a circular motion, slowly covering the entire chest — using this time to become familiar with how your breasts feel and to notice any unfamiliar growths or developments.
*While daily dry brushing is also an incredibly important daily ritual to stimulate lymphatic drainage, it is not recommended to brush the gentle skin of the breasts. Focus instead on the other areas of the body (brushing from feet and fingertips towards the heart) and incorporate daily breast massage to specifically support lymphatic drainage in the breast region.
SAY GOODBYE TO UNDERWIRE BRAS
Let your ladies breathe! Tight, ill-fitting underwire bras prevent lymphatic drainage from the breasts. If you have red marks after removing your bra, then it’s likely too tight and therefore constricting blood flow. While going braless can at first be uncomfortable for many, it’s a freeing experience for most that allows women to become comfortable and confident with the natural shape of their breasts.
CONSIDER THERMOGRAPHY BEFORE MAMMOGRAPHY
Thermography is a technology that detects thermal changes in breast tissue, which are precursors for breast tissue anomalies that can become cancerous. Unlike a mammogram, a thermogram isn’t invasive — meaning no one touches or flattens your breasts — and there is absolutely no radiation exposure. Thermography often allows you time to change your habits and improve the health of your breast tissue, since it is able to find potential problems years before a mammogram can detect cancerous cells.