Fibrocystic breasts are composed of tissue that feels bumpy, ropey or lumpy. This is referred to as glandular or nodular breast tissue. The condition is fairly common; more than 50 percent of women have it at some time in their lives. Medical professionals have stopped using the term “fibrocystic breast disease” and now simply refer to “fibrocystic breasts” or “fibrocystic breast changes” because it truly is not a disease.
Although the breast changes categorized as “fibrocystic breasts” are normal, they can cause breast pain, tenderness and lumpiness — particularly in the upper, outer area of your breasts. Breast symptoms tend to be most noticeable right before menstruation. Fibrocystic breast changes occur most often in women in their 20s to 50s. Postmenopausal women seldom experience fibrocystic breast changes, unless they’re on hormone therapy.
In natural medicine, cysts are considered a sign of toxicity and are created to store toxins the body is having trouble eliminating. In our practice we address this toxicity and how it may be safely eliminated.
What are the Symptoms?
- Monthly increase in breast pain or lumpiness from midcycle (ovulation) to just before your period
- Breast lumps or areas of thickening
- Fluctuating size of breast lumps
- Green or dark brown non-bloody nipple discharge
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Changes in both breasts
Most fibrocystic breast changes are perfectly normal. However, if you find an area of thickening or a new breast lump that persists after your period, or if a previously evaluated breast lump seems to have grown or otherwise changed, make an appointment with your doctor to have it examined.1
What are the Causes?
The exact cause of fibrocystic breast changes isn’t known, but estrogen is believed to play a key role. Some medical professionals believe low iodine levels may be a culprit.When examined under a microscope, fibrocystic breast tissue includes distinct components such as:
- Fluid-filled round or oval sacs (cysts)
- A prominence of scar-like fibrous tissue (fibrosis)
- Overgrowth of cells (hyperplasia) lining the milk ducts or milk-producing tissues (lobules) of the breast
- Enlarged breast lobules (adenosis)
Having fibrocystic breasts doesn’t increase your risk of breast cancer, unless the breast changes are associated with atypical hyperplasia (atypia) — the abnormal appearance and overgrowth of cells lining breast lobules and ducts. Women with atypia do have an increased risk of breast cancer compared with the general population.2
DIET AND LIFESTYLE
A diet that is mostly vegetarian will be the best approach including Wild-caught salmon, beans, legumes, organic fruits, nuts and vegetables. Use healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil for cooking. Minimize or eliminate gluten which can produce an inflammatory response.
Minimize xenoestrogens by going organic. We have too much estrogen in our modern environment. Our food and water supplies are overburdened with xenoestrogens from herbicides, pesticides and petrochemical residues from plastics. Many pesticides are fat soluble and they accumulate in animal fat as they move up the food chain, resulting in reproductive problems in animals and humans alike. Meat, eggs and dairy foods can be a source of xenoestrogens; estrogens are fed to dairy cattle to encourage more milk production and to chickens to increase egg production. Animals that are raised organically are not fed estrogens. Pesticides are another source of xenoestrogens, so buy organic whenever possible. Avoid animal fat from non-organic animal foods as both xenoestrogens and other toxins tend to concentrate in the fat. 3
Estrogenic compounds are also found in plastics. Use stainless steel or glass to store food and water. Never microwave food in plastic containers (preferably, never microwave!).
Employ phytoestrogens to block xenoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogen compounds that bind to the same estrogen receptor sites that xenoestrogens do. When a receptor site is already occupied by a phytoestrogen, xenoestrogens cannot attach to it. The weaker phytoestrogen effectively blocks the stronger xenoestrogen by stealing the xenoestrogen’s target, thereby protecting the body against too much estrogen stimulation.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens include many whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables and alfalfa. So, add more legumes, flaxseeds, lignans and dark greens to your diet.
Enhance liver detoxification. The liver is responsible for breaking down excess hormones, environmental toxins and other substances for elimination. Today’s liver is overworked and underpaid, not to mentioned malnourished! You can help your liver rid your body of xenoestrogens and other toxins by supporting it with appropriate foods and supplements.Also, you will want to reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption, which further taxes the liver. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can reduce levels of xenoestrogens because they contain compounds like indole-3-carbynol, which aid the liver in breaking down excess estrogens in the system.Fiber binds toxins, including xenoestrogens, in the intestines and carries them out of the body.4
Cut back on caffeine. Considering that estrogen plays a part in fibrocystic breasts, it is wise to reduce your caffeine levels. While it doesn’t appear to cause cysts, in large quantities it can raise the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in your system which may ultimately affect your reproductive hormones. Caffeine, stress hormones and reproductive hormones could play a role in premenstrual breast swelling and discomfort. It is important to note that data from two large, long-term women’s health studies suggests a connection between high caffeine intake and precancerous or high-risk breast lesions.5
Proper lymphatic drainage is greatly enhanced by wearing a bra that fits correctly. Avoid underwire whenever possible as it constricts breast tissue.
Regular exercise also helps elimate toxins; jumping on a rebounder for ten minutes a day is wonderful for keeping the lymph glands functioning at optimal levels.
Helps normalize estrogen.
Supplies the building blocks for hormones.
Supports lymphatic drainage.
Assists with balancing hormones.
5. Liver DTX
Extremely effective with assisting the detoxification system.