An A-Z Woman's Guide to Vibrant Health

Fibrocystic Breast Disease

With the fear of breast cancer so prominent today, breast lumps are a concern for many women. Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD), also called cystic mastitis, is a common, non-cancerous condition. It can be mildly uncomfortable to severely painful, especially when breasts become swollen. 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 and thickens like scar tissue. The cysts may swell before and during menstruation. Although it does not increase your risk of cancer, it may make detecting cancerous tumors difficult through breast self-exams.

Twenty to 40 percent of women who are pre-menopausal (between the ages of 35 and 50) experience FBD, with the symptoms generally disappearing after menopause. FBD is affected by the rise and fall of monthly female hormones.

Symptoms
Breasts are a mixture of fat, glands and connective tissue so their texture will always be irregular. Breast tissues are 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. This occurs month after month and year after year. In some women this process causes fibrous tissue to develop into lumps. Symptoms include breast tenderness and swelling, and a lumpy feeling to the breast.

It can be very distressing to feel these lumps. 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. Lumps that suddenly grow larger and don't change with your menstrual cycle; discharge from your nipple; severe, unrelenting pain or puckered or dimpled skin on your breast should be reported to your physician immediately. (See Breast Self-exam in Appendix C)

Causes
FBD occurs when there is excess estrogen or an imbalance in estrogen to progesterone in the body due to stress, estrogen replacement therapy or due to xenoestrogens. It 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. Because of its timing, it is considered a symptom of PMS. It is now considered a risk factor for or precursor to breast cancer.

Heavy coffee consumption has been linked to FBD, along with a diet high in "bad" fats. As well, being overweight is a risk factor for FBD.

PRESCRIPTION FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH


Nutrients
Dosage
Action
Multivitamins with minerals; (contains no iron)
MULTISMART
As directed. For complete formula recommendations see Appendix A
Ensures adequate nutrient status
ESTROSMART
2 capsules with breakfast daily

D-glucarate 150 mg
Important for healthy metabolism of estrogen; supports normal cell growth
Turmeric 50 mg
(95% curcumin)
Prevents abnormal cell growth, detoxifies cancer-causing form of estorgen
Indole-3-carbinol 150 mg
Stops healthy estrogen from converting into the cancer-causing form
Has been shown to reverse abnormal PAP tests within three menstrual cycles
Green tea extract 100 mg
Protects against abnormal cell growth, detoxifies excess estrogens
Di-indolylmethane (DIM) 50 mg
Antioxidant; reduces risk of cancer
Rosemary extract 25 mg
Reduces tumor formation; antioxidant
Sulforaphane 200 mcg daily
Reduces risk of cancer; stops abnormal cell growth
Potassium Iodine
As directed
Important for thyroid activity; Deficiency of iodine promotes FBD symptoms See Thyroid
Natural progesterone cream
In Canada, progesterone cream is a prescription drug. Use 6% natural progesterone 1/4 to 1/2 tsp morning and night between day 5-28 (or whenever your normal cycle ends). In the U.S., my choices are Emerita Pro-Gest Single Use packets and Progesta-Care by Life-flo; the latter delivers 20 mg in a premeasured pump dose.
Restores progesterone levels and alleviates estrogen dominant symptoms
Borage oil
GLA Skin Oil
2000 mg Borage oil per day
Anti-inflammatory; controls negative prostaglandins involved in pain and inflammation
Chaste Tree
(Vitex) berry
100 to 175 mg daily
Balances estrogen-to-progesterone ratio; important for proper cell function

HEALTH TIPS TO ENHANCE HEALING
  • Take two Estromart capsules containing indole-3-carbinol, d-glucarate, sulforaphane, green tea, curcumin, rosemary and DIM at breakfast daily.
  • To reduce estrogen levels, follow an organic, predominantly vegetarian diet and increase your fiber intake. Fiber 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).
  • Avoid caffeine, chocolate, tea and cola drinks as they contain methylxanthines that cause FBS.
  • Treat constipation to ensure elimination of toxins (See Constipation).
Other Recommendations
  • Exercise regularly to improve circulation, and help to detoxify and manage weight.
  • Rule out low thyroid. See Appendix C for a home thyroid test.
  • Do self-exams monthly to familiarize yourself with your breasts so that you are able to detect subtle changes such as thickening, lumps, etc., and when they occur or disappear.
  • Avoid antiperspirants, they clog up drainage from the sweat glands and the toxins have to drain back into the breast. Also they contain parabens which are linked to breast cancer.
  • Massaging your breasts in a circular motion will improve lymph flow and circulation, while at the same time familiarizing you with their architecture. Make it a daily ritual, either during your morning shower or before you goto bed.
  • To control pain, use castor oil packs. (See Endometriosis for how-to information.)