A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend of mine found out that she had a 1.5 cm dense “mass” in her right breast. She would have to have a biopsy done to investigate whether it was cancerous or not. Over the next week or so while we waited for testing and results, time stood still. And the conversation began about how common of a situation this is for women today. And how we don’t really think about it until it happens to someone we love.
Did you know that about 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime? The American Cancer Society estimates that somewhere around 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and about 39,620 women will die from breast cancer in 2013. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women (out ranked only by lung cancer.) (source) A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it. (source) And on a positive note, at this time there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
PREVENTION: 10 Simple Self-Care Tips
Preventative self- care is critical in reducing our risk of developing breast cancer. There are many things we can do on a daily basis to love up our breast to keep them healthy.
#1 Eat a healthy diet
Eating a well balanced diet of vegetable, good quality meats and proteins, healthy fats, and nurient-dense foods is essential to being vital and healthy. Make sure to get plenty of essential fatty acids and anti-oxidant rich foods. Buy as much organic foods as you can to avoid genetically modified foods and harmful chemicals. And reduce the amount of processed sugars and simple carbohydrates in your diet, both things that create inflammation and acidity in the body.
#2 Move your body
Research suggests that increased physical activity, even when begun later in life, reduces overall breast-cancer risk by about 10 percent to 30 percent. All it takes is moderate exercise like a 30-minute walk five days a week to get this protective effect.
#3 Don’t Smoke
Smoking cigarettes is associated with increased risk of breast cancer in women and is terrible for your body in so many ways.
#4 Breastfeed your babies for as long as you can
Not only is breastfeeding good for your baby, it’s good for you as well. One study estimates that you reduce your risk 4.1 per cent for every 12 months of breastfeeding. So the longer that you breast feed, the better it is for your breast health (and your baby!!) It is assumed that the lower levels of estrogen in the body during lactation is responsible for the reduction in risk. The hormone estrogen fuels 80% of all breast cancers.
#5 Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. It’s recommended to have no more than 1 drink per day.
#6 Maintain a healthy weight
We all have a different ideal weight for our body. Try to stay in a healthy range for YOU. Obesity raises the risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause when breast cancer most often occurs.
#7 Avoid harmful chemicals in your beauty products
There are many dangerous and toxic substances used in beauty products these day. And many are now being linked to increased risks of health issues and cancers. I read just the other day that 99% of aggressive breast cancer tumors had parabens in them. (source) Parabens are one of the most common preservatives we see in products like deodorants, shampoos, and body lotions. Read more HERE I encourage you to find sources for or even make your own beauty products. If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body. There are a lot of resources out there for natural body care. Just saw this Ebook and thought it looked great.
#8 Avoid hormone replacement therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy increases risk for breast cancer. From 1999 to 2005, breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. decreased by about 2% per year. The decrease was seen only in women aged 50 and older. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy. (source)
#9 Support and move your lymphatic system
Ayurveda calls the lymphatic system the “river of life.” The lymphatic system is a one-way system of vessels and nodes that runs throughout your entire body from your feet to your heart, from your hands to your heart, and from your head to your heart. Your entire immune function relies on your lymphatic system moving and flowing. The fluid running through, called lymph, travels throughout the body destroying disease causing microorganisms (pathogens.) And since the lymphatic system has no “pump” like your cardiovascular system does, it relies solely on the movement on your body to move things along. Daily self-massage, oilination, salt scrubs, and dry brushing can all keep your lymph flowing. Be sure to always move in the direction that your lymph wants to move, towards the heart. (source: DeAnna Batdorff from the Dhyana Center in Sebastopol, Ca.)
#10 Practice breast self-exams
It’s a great habit to get into to examine your breasts on a regular basis. Get to know your breasts. And that way if there any changes in your breast tissue, you will know. See HERE for a a detailed explanation on breast self-exams.
After reading my post, my dear friend who had the lump reminded me that there is also an emotional component to breast issues. Stress and “holding on to things” can create congestion and blocked energy in our bodies. It’s important to look at our emotional patterns and to moderate our stress levels. And to also practice “letting go” of things so as not to hold on to them in our bodies. Open up, let it move, and go with the flow. There is a universal current or pulse that is happening all around us. As we move into harmony with nature and that universal pulse, we begin to find ease in our bodies and peace in our minds. On a personal note, I find yoga the best way to help me de-stress and to connect with myself and the world around me.