Breast Health and Menopause

breast Aug 20, 2019

 

As you approach perimenopause, you may start to notice changes in your breasts. Some women discover lumps and bumps, others notice changes in size or texture, new sensitivity or discomfort. 

As your estrogen levels start to drop, you may notice your breasts start to shrink. This is because estrogen stimulates the glandular system for milk production. When you no longer need your breasts to be on standby for feeding, they may start to feel less dense, and this can lead to sagging. If you are a regular exerciser, especially if you use weights or do push-ups, you might not notice this as much, as the exercise will increase and tone the muscles underneath to help keep your breasts up!

 

It’s a good idea to do regular breast self-examinations. It's a better idea to ask your doctor to do an annual physical examination.

Start by getting comfortable with what ‘normal’ looks and feels like for you. Some women will have naturally lumpy breasts; other breasts may feel denser and more fibrous. It's normal to have a slightly different shape or size breast.

If you are still menstruating, breast self-examination is best to do a few days after your period ends.

  1. Stand in front of a mirror with your arms relaxed by your side. Look at both breasts. Look for anything unusual. Check for skin dimpling or nipple pulling.
  2. Repeat with your arms behind your head.
  3. Repeat with hands on your hips. Bend slightly forward and pull your shoulders and elbows forward.
  4. Squeeze each nipple and look for any discharge.
  5. Lie on your back and put one arm over your head. With your other hand, start palpitating under your arm using an up-and-down pattern. Using the pads of your fingers feel for any abnormalities. Continue over the breast until you reach your sternum, then swap sides and repeat. To thoroughly check the entire area, make sure you feel up to your collarbone. Some women prefer to use circular or wedge-like patterns instead of lines. As long as the entire area is covered, it doesn’t matter which technique you use. 

 

 Here is a list of things to look for:

  • A new lump in your breast or under your arm. 
  • Thickening or swelling of any part of your breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of your breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in your nipple area or your breast.
  • Pulling in of your nipple, or pain in your nipple area.
  • Persistent nipple itch.
  • Nipple discharge. 
  • Any change in the size or the shape of your breast.
  • Pain in any area of your breast.
  • Warmth, redness or darkening of the skin around your breasts.

 

A medical doctor should investigate all new lumps and bumps and any new discomfort. Especially any sharp, shooting or radiating pain.  Please note that nine out of ten lumps are not cancerous, but all are worth further investigation. 

 

Breast augmentation

I’m not a fan of implants. The risk to reward ratio in my opinion just isn’t worth it. The most common complication is leaking and rupturing. Both cancer and autoimmune disease are linked with this. The increased risk of cancer that is linked with breast implants isn’t actually breast cancer. It’s a cancer of the immune system— Anaplastic large cell lymphoma. 

If you have breast implants, know the longer you have them, the increased risk of rupture you will have. Another possible problem is the growth of mould or bacteria within the saline implants. If you are the kind of person that reacts to household mould you can start to imagine the extent of the damage the mould inside your body would have. 

If you would like to know more watch the Absolutely Safe documentary or read Breast Implants: Everything You Need To Know, by Nancy Bruning

 

Environment

Did you realise your breast tissue is like a sponge for all the environmental toxins? These toxins are fat-soluble, which means our body stored them in fatty tissues such as your breasts. Its no wonder breast cancer is on the rise with the alarming increase of chemicals in our environment. they are in our food, our water, the air we breathe, the products we put on our skin. The best way to reduce these chemicals is to not put them in our body in the first place. Swap conventional food for organic food, tap water for filtered water, stop using aerosols and perfumes, throw out your plastics and swap your personal care products for chemical-free versions. 

 

Diet

  • Eat lots of the brassica family—broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, etc.
  • Avoid processed and sugary foods.

 

Lifestyle

  • Save your bras with an underwire for special occasions and invest in everyday comfortable bras without underwire. It's best to get these fitted as most women are wearing the incorrect size bra and this increases discomfort.
  • Switch to aluminum-free deodorants.
  • Get plenty of sleep, shift workers and women exposed to lights at night produce less melatonin and this has been linked with a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Work on managing your stress levels.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke.
  • Be in the healthy weight range.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption.
  • Once you have had any uncomfortable lumps checked by a doctor, you may find relief by placing hot compresses over them.

 

Breast health-promoting nutrients 

  • Iodine
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Probiotics

 

Testing

  • Urinary iodine levels. Low iodine is a risk factor for breast changes such as fibrous or cystic breast. 
  • Vitamin D  controls normal breast cell growth and deficiency is linked with abnormal growths.
  • Zinc and copper ratio, if you have a good ratio of zinc, it can help halt the abnormal growths.
  • Blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • GPL tox with glyphosate to look at levels of environmental toxin stored in your body.
  • Estrogen metabolites assessment, to identify your primary forms of estrogen and the relative risk associated with hormonal related cancers.
  • Physical examination by your doctor.
  • Imaging can be ultrasound, mammogram or both. (Note, mammograms are contraindicated if you have breast implants as it can rupture the implants).
  • If you are a Sydney based reader, I have some good news. St Vincent Clinic has one of the first 3D breast imaging machines. The test is called Abbreviated Breast MRI and it is more accurate than a mammogram and has obvious advantages: no breast compression and no radiation! Let’s hope we get a few more machines spread through the country/ world soon. 

 

Note, I have specifically left out breast cancer treatment. If you have breast cancer, please do not self-treat. See a practitioner who specialises in the care of this form of cancer. It's your life, and you are worth it.

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