Nutrition and holistic health practices are very important for maintaining breast health, via hormonal balance.
Changes in hormones cause changes in breast tissue that can lead to breast discomfort in some individuals. Breast pain, also called mastalgia, is a common condition. It can also be independent of hormonal changes in the cycle. Sometimes pain not associated with the menstrual cycle can come from surrounding muscles or tissues rather than from the breast tissue itself. Although mastalgia is very common, it should be investigated by a medical professional if it is a cause for concern, namely changes in severity or occurrence for a long period of time. Sometimes pain not associated with the menstrual cycle can come from surrounding muscles or tissues rather than from the breast tissue itself.
Breasts develop due to an increase in oestrogen at the time of puberty. Oestrogen is the hormone which instructs cells to grow.
Two of the most common causes are hormone fluctuations and non-cancerous lumps in the breast.
During a menstrual cycle, fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone occur. An imbalance of these hormones may cause breasts to feel swollen and uncomfortable.
Breasts can undergo changes known as involution. This is when breast tissue is replaced by fat tissue. A side effect of this is the development of cysts and more fibrous tissue. These are known as fibrocystic changes or fibrocystic breast tissue.
Sometimes fibrocystic breasts can cause pain, but may also be painless
While fibrocystic breasts don’t always cause pain, they can. These changes are not usually a cause for concern.
Breast cancer can have several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.
You should also see a GP if you notice any of these symptoms:
a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood
a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
dimpling on the skin of your breasts
a rash on or around your nipple
a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast.
Breast cancer is often divided into either:
non-invasive breast cancer (carcinoma in situ) – found in the ducts of the breast (ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS) which has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. Non-invasive breast cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.
invasive breast cancer – where the cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
Other, less common types of breast cancer include:
invasive (and pre-invasive) lobular breast cancer
inflammatory breast cancer
Paget's disease of the breast
The most important thing to do for the prevention of cancer is to create a healthy environment in the body so that cancer is less likely to develop and grow.
Balance insulin: Insulin resistance can lead to a high level of circulating insulin, which may be linked to weight gain associated with cancer development.
Balance oestrogen: oestrogen is a growth hormone, controlling it is needed for good breast health, reducing fibroids and swelling and reduced breast cancer risk.
Top foods to manage oestrogen:
These components help plant foods survive in nature and have been found to help our bodies thrive. There are many potent phytonutrients in food which can strengthen the immune system, to reinforce our protection against cancer.
To get more phytonutrients in your diet, eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white/tan foods all have different phytonutrient components, which are essential for good health.
Breast Health Top Tips:
Focus on whole foods. Whole foods are non-processed foods. Whole foods are nutrient-dense, high in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to promote health. These foods will also help to prevent insulin resistance (see previous).
Get 3-5 hours of exercise per week. Aim for 45 minutes, 5 times per week. This helps keeps hormones in check.
Aim for 30 grams per day of fibre. High-fibre goods include vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds (such as ground flax seeds), and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.
Have protein at every meal or snack of the day. Good protein sources include fish, lean poultry, beans, nuts, eggs, and whole or fermented soy foods. Ensure you have a good balance of plant protein sources in the diet too.
Get 7-9 hrs of sleep per night to support the immune system and support blood sugar levels, these are important factors for preventing cancer.
Avoid excess toxic exposure in the following ways: See our article of hormone disruptors.
Avoid pesticides and herbicides. Try to eat organic where possible
Choose organic products for the garden and home
Avoid plastic bottles (especially #7 that has BPA), instead a reusable stainless-steel or glass water bottle, and store food in glass containers
Look for body-care products free of parabens and phthalates
Limit your alcohol intake. Allow at least 3 days between drinking alcohol.
Cruciferous vegetables help the body detoxify toxins and oestrogen. Ideally, try to get 1-2 servings of cruciferous vegetables each day. Cruciferous vegetables include:
Other Top Foods for Breast Wellness:
Green tea – organic
Blueberries and other organic berries
Beans and legumes
Ground Flax Seed
Garlic and Onions
Seaweed and Nori
Try Vitamin D: Liquid Vitamin D3 (1000IU per drop)
Those with low levels of vitamin D may run a greater risk of developing breast cancer, and breast cancer survivors with low vitamin D levels may have a greater risk of disease recurrence. Research also suggests that high vitamin D levels are linked to better breast cancer survival rates[i].
The best source of vitamin D is from the sun, so people who don’t get a lot of daily sun exposure can be deficient in vitamin D. However, please remember to apply sunscreen to lower your risk of skin cancer.
Try a Multivitamin: O.N.E. Multivitamin (ONE Multi) (60 Caps)
A regular multivitamin may help you get essential vitamins and minerals to improve your overall health.
Try Green Tea Extract: Green Tea 500mg
Is one of the most important anti-cancer. It is suggested by studies to protect against cancer and reduce inflammation which is connected to cancer risk and can also reduce blood sugar, anxiety and brain fog[ii].
Try Curcumin: Curcumin (60 Capsules)
Curcumin is an antioxidant compound originating from turmeric. It has amazing anti-cancer qualities [iii].
Try DIM: DIM Ultra (60 Caps)
DIM (3,3'-diindolylmethane), has been shown to have hormone-balancing capabilities. It has been shown to be protective against breast cancer[iv].
Try Probiotics: Your Flora Regenesis (60 caps)
Take probiotics. The right balance of bacteria in your digestive system helps with the mobilization and detoxification of oestrogen and other toxins.
[i] Yao S, Kwan ML, Ergas IJ, et al. Association of Serum Level of Vitamin D at Diagnosis With Breast Cancer Survival: A Case-Cohort Analysis in the Pathways Study. JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(3):351–357. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.4188
[ii] Li MJ, Yin YC, Wang J, Jiang YF. Green tea compounds in breast cancer prevention and treatment. World J Clin Oncol. 2014 Aug 10;5(3):520-8.
[iii] Liu D, Chen Z. The effect of curcumin on breast cancer cells. J Breast Cancer. 2013 Jun;16(2):133-7.
[iv] Thomson CA, Ho E, Strom MB. Chemopreventive properties of 3,3'-diindolylmethane in breast cancer: evidence from experimental and human studies. Nutr Rev. 2016 Jul;74(7):432-43.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.