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Some Advice From Your BREAST-Buddies

Our Top Five Tits, oops, TIPS, on keeping your boobs healthy.

Ok, we’ll go easy on the boob puns. Milk machines. Sex Symbols. Itty-Bitty Committee. Bouncing and Bountiful. Peanut Smuggling. However you see them, or whatever their size, the one label you don’t want for them is… cancerous.

Breast cancer is now the most common cancer affecting women. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, an estimated 1 million may be undiagnosed, due to lack of medical coverage and false negative or insufficient screening tests. The current likelihood of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime is approximately 1 in 8, yet our typical approach is only a defensive one, i.e., wait until the cancer occurs. We know that the 1 in 8 statistic is an average; that rate is lower when we are younger and so increases as we get older.

Ok, But How Do I Breast Protect Them?

Recent discussion about recommended screening guidelines and confusion about hormone replacement therapies have left many practitioners and patients puzzled about the best approach to take. Sufficient screening is important, but we don't have to wait for cancer to show itself before we take action…

D is for VITAMIN D
(And Dairy Pillows, Devil’s Pillows, Dingoes, Double Whammies, Dumplings, & Dueling Banjos)

Vitamin D deficiency is literally an epidemic - an estimated 75-90% of the US population has insufficient levels. Vitamin D binds to specific receptors in just about every cell in the body and influences how DNA makes a range of enzymes and other molecules for optimal functioning. The effects of vitamin D include the promotion of cellular differentiation and programmed cell death, including cancer cell death (apoptosis) as well as reducing cancer cell growth. In addition to protecting the bones and boosting the immune system, studies show that Vitamin D helps prevent certain cancers including breast, ovarian, prostate, kidney, pancreatic, colon and colorectal. Research has shown that if women keep their blood levels of Vitamin D at 40-60 ng/ml year round, it would prevent 58,000 new cases of breast cancer each year. Other studies found that low Vitamin D levels can result in more aggressive breast cancers and double the risk of breast cancer spreading. When you get your blood test done for Vitamin D - you might get the answer that your level is “normal” Normal does NOT equal Optimal. Optimal levels are 40-100 ng/ml. Below 40 ng/ml is NOT optimal. The sun is one of the best ways to get vitamin D as our skin makes it when the UVB rays shine on us. Ten to twenty minutes a day without sunscreen is all you need - longer if your skin is dark. The body can make up to 10,000 IU of Vitamin D in 30 minutes. Although we have been taught to be careful of the sun, short bursts will give you what you need without creating toxic levels.

I is for Iodine
(And Itty-Bitties)

Breast tissue is the second most concentrated place we should find iodine in the body. Iodine can regulate hormone metabolism as well as induce apoptosis (cell death), disrupt cell growth, and regulate how cells differentiate themselves. The average dietary intake of iodine in Japan is approximately 45.8 milligrams per day (compared with less than 1,000 micrograms in this country) and the Japanese have one of the lowest breast cancer rates in the world! Furthermore, iodine is one of the most effective treatments for breast pain and fibrocystic breast changes. Iodine decreases the ability of estrogen to adhere to estrogen receptors in the breast. Iodoral is a great supplement available for everyday use and iodine is also available as a tincture.

P is for Progesterone
(And Peaks, Peaches, Pillows, Pointers, PomPoms and Pips)

Progesterone is needed to balance the proliferative effects of estrogen and has been shown repeatedly in studies to decrease cellular proliferation of breast cells when given alone or in conjunction with estrogen. Because breast pain is often related to estrogen overstimulation, it can be alleviated by increasing your levels of progesterone. Progesterone down-regulates estrogen receptors in your breast after you have been using it for about 5-10 days; this means your breasts will be protected from too much estrogen. And yes, this effect is especially true in women with a history of "progesterone receptor positive" breast cancer! Progesterone also decreases blood clotting and increases the number of natural killer cells (T Cells) in the immune system.

S is for Stress-Free Zone
(And Shakers, Sandbags, Sweatermeat, Sugar Plums, and Snuggle Pups)

Stress increases inflammation which increases the risk of cell damage and opens the door for overgrowth of abnormal cells. When you are overwhelmed and busy, accept help. Along with accepting help is learning to say "No". We can say No in a kind and firm way without offending someone. If that’s hard for you - there are plenty of resources on how to learn to say no - we recommend ‘Not Nice’ by Aziz Gazipura. Stress can kill us, so working out what is important and what is not important is critical to managing your health. Think about the hierarchy of needs: Food, Water, Shelter, Rest, Safety, Belongingness, and Feelings of Accomplishment. When stress begins to mount, have your go to list ready - a walk with a friend, quiet time to sew or knit, listen to a story, a meditation, a bubble bath. Find that time for self-care!

T is for Toxicant Reduction
(And Titties, Ta-ta’s, Torpedos, Tetons, TidBits, and The Twins)

Toxicants are any agents that cause an adverse effect or response in the body. These adverse effects can damage cells and also alter DNA. This damage can lead to diseases including cancer; others can disrupt specific metabolic pathways leading to damage to organs like the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs. Toxicants are found in food ingredients (pesticides especially), the home (new construction and carpets especially), water supply, packaged foods where food processing methods increase harmful substances in the meal. Antioxidants are critical for removing toxicants in the body. Women with breast pain are helped by the antioxidant vitamins E and A and the mineral selenium. Vitamin C is a critical vitamin for many functions in the body, including acting as an antioxidant. The body can only use so much Vitamin C at a time so regular low doses several times during the day is far better than one mega dose.

To read more like this, check out our recent articles on Hormones and Heart Disease, Liver Health, and the effect of Xenoestrogens on the body!