[Article updated and expanded as of October 2022]
Chances are that you know someone who has faced a breast cancer diagnosis. Many of us have lost loved ones to breast cancer. There are so many factors on the plate when it comes to preventing and healing breast cancer. In particular, diet is an extraordinarily powerful anti-cancer treatment, but that is a whole separate post in itself. Here, I focus on three lifestyle changes every woman should know for better breast health.
1. Take an underwire haitus
Breast tissue houses a big part of our lymphatic tissue. Our lymph system is like the garbage disposal for the body and it flushes out toxins. Unlike our cardiovascular system, however, the lymph system does not have a pump to move the fluid. Instead, the movement of our body is fully responsible for flushing toxins through lymph. Yes, that means breasts are supposed to bounce!
According to breast health expert Cheri-lynn Burk, underwire bras impede the movement of breast tissue and cause the lymph tissue to gather toxins. And she isn’t alone in spreading this news… many, many alternative health practitioners warn against wearing underwires. Additionally, a highly respected energy worker and holistic health practitioner once explained to me that, since we are energetic beings, the metal in underwire bras impede the flow of several important meridians that flow across our torso.
But are underwire bras really such a big deal? Some convincing but circumstantial evidence says yes. In the book Dressed to Kill, authors Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer conducted a study of over 4,000 women and discovered some shocking results:
- women who wore bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer
- women who wore bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 52 risk of breast cancer
- women who never or rarely wore bras had a 1 out of 168 chance of breast cancer
Further, one controlled study found that bra wearers had twice the risk of breast cancer compared with non bra users (although this could also reflect the point that the non bra users generally had smaller breasts and that correlated to the reduced cancer risk) And a Japanese study found that a bra can lower your melatonin (a extremely beneficial hormone) levels by 60%.
“Don’t underwire bras keep the girls perky?” you may be asking. Actually, according to a bra study from France (where else?), going braless actually keeps the girls perkier.
…women who did not use bras benefited in the long term, developing more muscle tissue to provide natural support. As France’s The Local notes, Rouillon also noticed that nipples gained a higher lift, in relation to the shoulders, on women who went braless. When bras are worn, the restrictive material prevents such tissue from growing, which may actually accelerate sagging, the study concluded. Source
I understand if going braless isn’t a lifestyle change you want to make. Fortunately, there are safer bra alternatives that allow better lymph flow.
First, you can remove the underwire from your bras. It does remove some support though, as would be expected.
Second, purchase non-underwire bras. Personally, I prefer wire-free bras with natural fiber fabric, such as cotton, over synthetic fabrics such as nylon. There are the aspects of energetic harmony, comfort, and chemical load to consider — I discuss all this in my article, 5 Reasons to Switch To Natural Fiber Clothing.
Here are a couple of my favorite wire-free bra options:
If you can’t see yourself making the changes listed above, at least incorporate daily breast massage to support lymphatic drainage throughout your breast tissue.
In fact, this is a healing practice to incorporate daily even if you go braless! Daily breast massage takes just 5 – 7 minutes, and is relaxing process to add to your bedtime routine. Use a small amount of your preferred body oil for the massage (I love the Breast Massage Oil from Living Libations).
Breast massage is a very simple, intuitive process. Start massaging the breast tissue with varying degrees of pressure. Focus on places that feel sore, which indicates lymphatic stagnation, and pay particular attention to the tissue in and around the armpits, where the lymph nodes drain. Move the tissue in circular motions, in both directions. Then, bounce the tissue as well get the lymphatics flowing.
2. Skip the Mammogram
I ruffled a lot of feathers when I gave you the other side of the colonoscopy story and urged you to think hard before getting a routine colonoscopy. Now I’m going to tell you to think twice about mammograms as well!
Mammograms have long been controversial and, as time passes, we have more and more evidence to avoid the harmful affects of this type of cancer screening.
Here’s the briefest summary of the mammography situation:
While mammograms may increase the detection of breast tumors, it does not reduce mortality from breast cancer. Many tumors go away on their own, which raises the question of how helpful cancer screening actually is. It’s worth asking, “Does cancer screening turn healthy people into customers for the medical industry?” Further, undergoing conventional cancer treatment for breast tumors may be completely unnecessary and dangerous.
I highly recommend the brief book The Cancer Industry: Crimes, Conspiracy and The Death Of My Mother for a deeper dive on cancer screening statistics.
According to health expert Dr. Mercola,
The Institute of Medicine is finally acknowledging the toxic effects of mammogram radiation as a significant factor in the development of breast cancer; just one mammogram can expose you to the radiation equivalent of 1,000 chest x-rays…
In September 2010, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals, published the first study in years7 to examine the effectiveness of mammograms. Their findings are a far cry from what most public health officials would have you believe.The bottom line is that mammograms seem to have reduced cancer death rates by only 0.4 deaths per 1,000 women—an amount so small it might as well be zero. Put another way, 2,500 women would have to be screened over 10 years for a single breast cancer death to be avoided. (Source)
The radiation and lack of effectiveness is not the only problem with mammograms. A big problem is the staggering numbers of false positives from mammograms. One study looked at three decades of U.S. data and found that 1 million women may have been mistakenly diagnosed with breast cancer due to mammogram screenings. Additionally, there is concern among alternative medical practitioners and even some Western medicine doctors that the intense compression of breast tissue during mammograms may spread the growth of any cancerous cells.
Interestingly, the body has a strong defense system against breast tumors and the immune system allows 30% of breast tumors to go away on their own (source).
Growing in popularity, thermograms provide a safer method for breast cancer detection. Although personally, I choose to avoid all breast cancer screenings including thermography.
Sarah explains the pitfalls of thermography in her post Thermography: Not a Perfect Alternative to Mammograms. The problem is that women are often pressured to get a mammogram before or after a thermogram. She explains:
Be sure to have a discussion with your chosen thermographer before the appointment to be sure that he/she has a way for you to get only a breast ultrasound and not a mammogram if a suspicious area is detected.
3. Stop the toxic personal care products
In our modern world, we are inundated with chemicals. There are chemicals that we cannot always avoid, like air pollution.There are chemicals that we can minimize, like the toxic furniture and carpeting that we bring into our house. And then there are the chemicals that we can completely avoid, like the chemicals in cosmetics and body care items.
Whatever we put on our skin is absorbed into the blood stream. Those unpronounceable chemicals from your shampoo and hairspray and body wash all end up inside your body, where they increase the risk of cancer, warp your endocrine system and may even increase the risk of heart disease. In particular, natural health experts condemn perspirants and deodorants, since the aluminum from these products are found in cancerous breast tissue (source). I suggest DIY deodorant or this option.
Additionally, the estrogen-like chemical additives found in many cosmetics may increase the risk of breast cancer. Parabens are a primary offender, found in countless body care products. The molecular structure of parabens resembles estrogen, and may cause excessive estrogen activity in the body. Estrogen dominance is a contributor to breast cancer.
Formaldehyde, another cancerous additive in body care, is disguised under various names. Scan your hair care products for these 8 ingredient names indicating formaldehyde. Here are my suggestions for natural haircare products.
Switching to safe personal care items is only part of the picture when it comes to reducing the carcinogenic burden on our bodies… but it is an important step and the first place to start if you are a newbie to toxin-reduction.
If you want a few other simple, daily detox practices, check out my video below:
Do you practice any of these tips for breast health?
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