By Dr. Andrea Wick EBS CONTRIBUTOR
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so it’s a good time to talk about the many things both men and women can do on a daily basis to keep your breasts healthy.
Here are some of my thoughts:
From a holistic-medicine approach, the majority of breast cancers are caused by environmental factors and stress.
First, let’s discuss diet. The breasts are most healthy when our liver is in balance. Foods that tax the liver are caffeine, alcohol and dairy, as these foods increase estrogen levels. When estrogen is not metabolized properly, it can cause increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and breast tenderness. Taking a daily B vitamin and a non-ascorbic-acid vitamin C can help combat the effects of a poor diet.
Overall, it is not that foods are harmful to our bodies, but that insecticides and pesticides added to the food increase the risk of exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens.
Second, be aware of what you are putting on your skin. Since our skin is our largest organ, anything that we put on our skin absorbs directly into the blood stream. This includes cosmetics, hair products, perfumes and so on which could have chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, methyl-parabens, sulfates, teflon, toluene, formaldehyde, aluminum, red No. 3, blue No. 1 and 2, and green No. 3. The Environmental Working Group is a great tool for checking ingredients in cosmetics or skin products and seeing how toxic they are for your body. Visit ewg.org to check your products.
Third, I believe happiness is relevant to health. Why is a happy mind important to breast health? Thoughts become things and having consistent negative thoughts can impact our health. The breasts represent nurturing, and are a way that women feed and nurture their babies. When women are not nurturing themselves and give and give to everyone else, they may risk having more stress that negatively affects breast health. Low self-esteem and unworthiness also are stress considerations with breast health.
Karol K. Truman, a health and healing guru, studied the concept of psychoneuroimmunology and believes that clearing thought patterns help to clear disease within the body, which trickles on to affect the mind, brain and immune system.
Finally, though scientific evidence has not yet proven it, there are many holistic anatomical theories that metal underwire bras cut off the lymphatic supply to the breast tissue. Bras without underwire are better options for lymphatic flow, which releases toxins from the breast tissue.
Ultimately, a healthy lifestyle can have major impacts on breast health. Biologist Bruce Lipton describes epigenetics as a “study of external and environmental factors that turn our genes on and off and defines how our cells read genes.” It is important to know that our health is in our own hands, and epigenetics is a way where we can all change the way our genes are expressed through our diet, thoughts and environment.
It is wise to do a self-check breast exam once a month, at five days post-menstruation. At this stage the breast is least tender due to hormonal changes. Seventy percent of breast cancers are found through self-exams. There are several different websites and resources where you can find out how to do a proper exam. I recommend Dr. Christiane Northrup, who has great information about breast health and how to do a proper exam, as well as resources for women’s health. Visit drnorthrup.com to learn more.
Dr. Andrea Wick is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist. She graduated from Life University in Marietta, Georgia, and now practices at Healing Hands Chiropractic in Big Sky. She has a passion for holistic health care and being active in the outdoors.