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Fibrocystic Breast Disease

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The fear of breast cancer makes finding breast lumps distressing for women. Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD), also called cystic mastitis, is a common noncancerous condition.

The fear of breast cancer makes finding breast lumps distressing for women. Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD), also called cystic mastitis, is a common noncancerous condition.

Twenty to 40 percent of premenopausal women (between the ages of 35 and 50) experience FBD. Symptoms generally disappear after menopause, as the disease is affected by the increase and decrease of monthly female hormones. FBD can be mildly uncomfortable to severely painful, especially when breasts become swollen.

Do I Have FBD?

Breasts are a mixture of fat, glands, and connective tissue, so their texture will always be irregular. Breast tissue is affected by a woman's monthly hormonal cycle. During the cycle, milk-secreting glands enlarge with fluid and their cells multiply. Most of the excess fluid is reabsorbed or drained by the lymphatic system. Fluid that has not been drained via the lymphatic system fills in small spaces within the breast. The fluid is then encapsulated by fibrous tissue, which thickens like scar tissue. Symptoms include breast tenderness, swelling, and a lumpy feeling to the breast.

Monthly breast self-exams, infrared breast scans, and/or ultrasound can help lay your fears of breast cancer to rest. If a breast lump is discovered, have your physician assess it and don't worry, most lumps are benign.

Symptoms that should be reported to your physician immediately include lumps that suddenly grow larger and don't change with your menstrual cycle, discharge from your nipples, severe unrelenting pain, or puckered or dimpled skin.

What Causes the Lumps?

FBD occurs when there is excess estrogen or an imbalance in estrogen to progesterone in the body due to stress, estrogen replacement therapy, or xenoestrogens. The disease is also seen in young women with irregular periods. Lumps may come and go, with symptoms often disappearing after menstruation has passed and hormone levels return to normal. FBD is now considered a risk factor for or precursor to breast cancer.

Heavy coffee consumption has been linked to FBD, as has a diet high in "bad" fats. In addition, being overweight is considered a risk factor for FBD.

The natural supplements and botanicals and tips for healing outlined in the sidebars can help reduce the symptoms of FBD.

Health Tips to Enhance Healing

  • To reduce estrogen levels, eat an organic, predominantly vegetarian diet and increase your fibre intake. Fibre carries estrogen out of the body.
  • Detoxification and elimination of waste is very important. Eat liver-friendly foods such as lemons, onions, garlic, leeks, kale, carrots, beets, artichokes, and members of the cabbage family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower). Treat constipation to ensure elimination of toxins.
  • To control pain, use castor-oil packs.
  • Avoid caffeine, chocolate, tea, and cola drinks as they contain methylxanthines that may be linked to FBD.
  • Exercise regularly to improve circulation, help detoxify, and manage weight.
  • See your health practitioner to rule out low thyroid.
  • Do breast self-exams monthly to familiarize yourself with your breasts so that you are able to detect subtle changes such as thickening, lumps, etc. Massaging your breasts in a circular motion will improve lymph flow and circulation, while familiarizing you with their structure. Make it a daily ritual, either during your morning shower or before you go to bed.
  • Avoid antiperspirants; they can clog drainage from the sweat glands so that toxins drain back into the breast. Alternately, look for brands without parabens, which have been linked to breast cancer.

PDF Table of Prescription for Healing FBD

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