What Every Woman Should Know About Her Breasts

We hear more and more about breast cancer awareness every year it seems. From TV and radio commercials, to the little pink ribbons you see everywhere, to knowing someone personally battling breast cancer.

It’s simple not something we can take lightly!

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in Canadian women.

According to the Breast Cancer Society, in 2016, on average, 70 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day and 13 Canadian women will die from the disease every day. [1]

Unfortunately, like myself, you also probably know one or more women who are currently battling breast cancer or who have even lost their battle from this terrible disease.

We’ve all heard about the Run For The Cure, and read all about the amazing people who are donating to help find the cure for breast cancer. While the amount of money raised for the Breast Cancer Foundation every year is remarkable, the problem is that we have only been focusing our attention on trying to find a “cure” rather than to raise the awareness for prevention.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where there’s a lot of emphasis on the all-mighty dollar, and big pharmaceutical companies seemingly would much rather make money off of you by giving you a pill to mask a symptom (which never fixes the root cause of problem) rather than give you the key information to prevent you ever needing those medications in the first place.

Fortunately, we ARE becoming more and more aware of how crucial it is to take our health into our own hands. So, it’s important for ALL women to be knowledgeable on how to support their breast health in an effort to prevent us from encountering problems with our tata’s!

What you should know about Breast Health

The rising rates of breast health problems aren’t caused by one single reason.

Many things contribute to increasing your odds of breast cancer like hormonal imbalance, the chemicals and toxins we’re exposed to every day through foods and our environment, and of course, genetic predisposition.

The Boob Diet

Did you know that by just making a few adjustments or improvements to your daily diet, you could be supporting and improving your breast health?

Vitamin D

The lovely “sunshine vitamin”. We all notice how good a beautiful sunny day feels after the long and gloomy Okanagan winter months. Not only is it beneficial for making you feel good, it helps with things like absorbing calcium, and for improving your immune and nervous systems.

Research suggests that women with low vitamin D levels have a higher risk of breast cancer because of the role that it plays in controlling normal breast cell growth and may be able to help stop breast cancer cells from growing.

If you are living anywhere that doesn’t get much sun for a good portion of the year, then you definitely want to stock up on vitamin D3 supplements, especially for the winter time.

Some high quality vitamin D-rich foods are egg yolks, grass-fed butter, fatty fish like wild-caught salmon & halibut, and fermented cod liver oil, which is great because it has the fat-soluble vitamins D & A, and is also high in Omega-3. Bonus!

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3’s (healthy fats) have also been linked to help lower the risk of getting breast problems because it helps decrease the amount of estrogen in breast tissue.

It also significantly lowers inflammation in the body, improves heart health, and promotes healthy brain function and immune system. It’s no wonder that it could very well help with preventing against breast cancer!

Dietary options for Omega-3 intake include fermented cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, cold water fish such as salmon & halibut, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil and the naturally occurring healthy fats in walnuts, sunflower seeds and pecans.

breast health

Caffeine and Fibrocystic Breasts

Tender and/or lumpy breasts are just a couple of symptoms you may experience if you have fibrocystic breasts. However, just because you have tender or lumpy breasts does NOT mean you have breast cancer.  

Women with a fibrocystic condition should continue to do breast self-examination regularly.

Most fibrocystic conditions are completely benign, but this can be identified by breast biopsy or sometimes by mammography &/or breast thermography.

Some studies have shown that caffeine may worsen the tenderness and pain that is associated with a fibrocystic condition. Women may find that chocolate and caffeinated beverages may worsen the pain, but neither caffeine or chocolate actually cause breast cancer.

Say NO THANKS To “Fake Estrogens” in your Food and Environment

Yes, estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and we all have it in our bodies – but you’re probably wondering what “fake estrogen” is?

Estrogen can also be available in the form of phytoestrogens – plants that act like estrogen, and xenoestrogens – substances like plastics that act like estrogen.

We live in an over-estrogenized world and it’s one of the leading causes of hormonal imbalance today.

Dr. Alana Berg ND says, “While we may not be able to avoid these estrogens 100%, doing your best to choose glass over plastic when possible, and avoiding soy products as much as you can will help immensely with avoiding estrogen dominance.”

Pay careful attention to your food labels as soy is in many foods – ones you wouldn’t even expect it to be in.

You’re probably beginning to see why so many of us feel out of balance with our hormones!

Deodorant/Antiperspirant and Breast Health

Smelling a little funky at work or even on a date probably isn’t something most people aim for!

So, there’s a good reason why most people today use deodorants and antiperspirants.

The thing most of us may not know is that nearly every deodorant or antiperspirant out there contains heavy metals, most commonly aluminum. Unless you go out of your way to get the more natural deodorants, I bet you’ll see aluminum on the ingredients list.

Aluminum basically stops us from sweating. But what it’s also doing is taking a toll on our lymphatic system. Due to the fact that armpits are right next to our breasts, you can probably see the correlation of this heavy metal potentially leaching into our lymphs and right into our breast tissue. Yikes!

Try aluminum-free deodorants like Tom’s Aluminum Free Deodorant, or even the mega-beauty brand Sephora carries one called “Clean Queen Vegan Deodorant” and “Consonant Dealkalizing Deodorant”.

You can find many others at health food stores as well, or even try making your own! Here’s a clean & cool DIY Deodorant Recipe by Wellness Mama.

breast health

Get the girls checked! Mammography vs. Thermography

So with all of this breast health talk, I should probably let you in on some ways you can get yourself checked out!

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that after the age of 40, women should have their breasts checked regularly checked every 2 years.

The decision to have a mammogram or use any other screening methods, such as thermography, may be a difficult decision for some women.  

Here are some facts about both to help you make your decision!

Mammogram

A mammogram is a way used with an x-ray screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. They can also be used to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain, skin dimpling or nipple discharge.

The downside with going this route is the amount of radiation exposure a woman gets through the use of x-rays to detect any signs of breast cancer.

Thermogrambreast thermology Kelowna

A thermogram is another way of detecting breast cell changes, but it can also assess breast cancer risk, which is something mammography cannot do.

Thermography is a tool to monitor breast health, not just a way to find disease, and there is no radiation or breast compression involved. The images are captured in real-time from an ultra-sensitive medical infrared imaging camera instead, which is not harmful to the woman. [2]

The downside with this option is that it is an out-of-pocket expense for most people, and it usually costs around $250.00. Also, there are not many clinics that can do this type of alternative testing for markers of breast health.

Luckily, Mission Naturopathic Clinic regularly brings in a ThermaCan Clinic (every 6 months) for anyone who is interested in booking an appointment for a thermogram.

NEXT CLINIC DATE IN KELOWNA: Saturday, May 27, 2017

Book your appointment today!

References:

[1] Canadian Cancer Society

[2] ThermaCan Breast Thermology