During my summer vacation after the 5th grade, my brother and I went to a summer camp for one month in Poland and then visited with family there for the second month. Upon my return I was a different person. Not just because of the experiences I had there of the European culture, not just because of the people I met nor the friendships I made. I was also a changed person on a physical level as my body went through a transformation called puberty and my breasts had started to grow...and grow...and grow some more. It was that inevitable time in a girl's awkward adolescence when she realizes she has to start wearing a bra.
Shopping for new bras was an interesting experience. The part that I could have done without was when the boys at school would sneak up behind me and pull on the back strap of my bra that they could somehow always see through my shirt. This got really tiring really fast and, unfortunately for me, it continued to last. I wore baggy shirts more often than not in an attempt to hide my bumps. I was on the track team and found it mildly annoying and often painful how they bounced up and down when I ran. Needless to say, that was my last year on the track team.
I spent the better part of my growing and teen years resenting these large, protruding organs on the upper part of my chest. I developed the habit of hunching my shoulders forward in an attempt to make my breasts look smaller, which not only injured my confidence, but also my posture. I thought that any boys who were attracted to me were only showing interest in my physical shape and that left me a bit untrusting of the opposite sex. Comments were often made to be by other females with smaller breasts about how lucky I was to have large breasts. I wished at that time that I was able to see the benefits that they saw. I didn’t yet understand their biological use nor had I found any appreciation for them and thus they were experienced as burdensome to me.
While pregnant with my son in 2007, I started to develop a deeper connection with my body than I had ever experienced before. Growing a life inside my womb was miraculous and most sacred. I was filled with awe and joy. It wasn't until after giving birth and using the fullness of my bosom to feed my newborn that I can truly say I loved my breasts for the very first time in my life. They suddenly had a purpose, a very important one! They helped foster a deep bond during breast feeding that I will always cherish and they provided nourishment for my growing boy.
Sadly though, the beauty and biological brilliance I’ve recently discovered for my breasts is being largely overshadowed in society by the plague of breast cancer sweeping the modern world. I have two friends and one client who have been diagnosed and had to make some tough decisions, and I know of other women through colleagues and acquaintances that were in the same boat. It pains me that incidence rates are alarmingly high but also may be preventable. Keep reading, because there is good news I'd like to share with you to restore hope regarding your breast health.
Most breast cancers are a result of cell mutation and not the genetic factors that many scientists lead us to believe. Our breasts are naturally designed to respond to signals from both the internal environment and outside influences. Breast tissues are highly absorptive cells that are brimming with endocrine receptors which, unfortunately, cannot tell the difference between real and synthetic estrogens. The fake ones disrupt our delicate hormonal balance and lead our health awry, even causing gender-bending effects. Nadine Artemis, founder of Living Libations and author of the well-researched book Renegade Beauty, identifies three key imbalances that are prevalent in breast cancer patients. Virtually all cases of women with a diagnosis of this dis-ease are proven to have high levels of xenoestorgens, metalloestorgens and mycoestrogens.
Xenoestrogens are molecular compounds found in the environment that bind to the estrogen receptors in our bodies and block the biological estrogens from doing their job. Many of us are exposing ourselves regularly to excessive levels of endocrine disruptors and xenoestrogens which are foreign to the human body. These compounds are lurking everywhere, from plastic water bottles to pasteurized milk. They are found in abundance in many sunscreens and skin care products. Use of artificial air-fresheners, perfumes, and even birth control pills contributes to the load of artificial estrogens that get stored in the fat cells of our breast tissues.
Metalloestrogens come to us via exposure to toxic and heavy metals, such as mercury from dental fillings, lead from lipsticks, aluminum from using antiperspirants and cooking with aluminum foil or aluminum pots and pans, cadmium from inhaling cigarette smoke and by consuming contaminated rice and grains. Halides from the halogen family of metals are another group of offenders. These include fluorine found as fluoride in drinking water and commercial toothpaste, chlorine found in public swimming pools and tap water. Bromine, whose various forms are lurking in processed foods and flame retardants on clothing and furniture, can attach itself to dust in our homes. If not eating organic foods, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides contribute to this chemical soup as well.
Mycoestrogens make their way into the body from a fungi that produces a mycotoxin that mimics estrogen as a byproduct. Candida albicans is the most common culprit. This is the fungus responsible for yeast infections in women and thrush in babies. Candida feeds off sugar yet this is not the only reason to reduce high sugar consumption in your diet. A domino effect occurs when our blood sugar levels are spiked; this leads to insulin resistance which contributes to estrogen spikes. Most of the Western population has a sluggish liver that struggles to process the elevated estrogen levels leaving us in further excess.
Right about now you may be moaning at the dismal situation of the picture painted before you. How can we possibly avoid exposure to artificial estrogens even if we are being most diligent? Are we forever under the effect of fat loving toxins that have an affinity for our breast tissue? Well, you will be pleased to know that there is a bright side; a light at the end of this tunnel. Along with her thorough research on the causes of breast cancer, Nadine Artemis also provides an effective solution to this epidemic. It's encouraging to note that the cells in our breasts can and do regenerate, provided they are given the nutrients and conditions they need. There is an innate intelligence in the body that allows for homeostasis and even miraculous healings.
The potent antioxidant and electron rich mineral called Iodine is a superhero antidote. You may have heard about iodine’s benefits to the thyroid gland, but did you know that the breasts also have a built-in mechanism for absorbing, storing and secreting iodine? Research shows that iodine deficiency increases estrogen production. A healthy level of iodine maintains the correct balance of, and assists in metabolizing our 3 estrogens ~ estrone, estradiol and estriol. It even helps the estrogen receptors in our body be more discerning between real vs synthetic estrogens! Iodine is necessary for the normal growth and development of breast tissues. In fact, there’s not a cell in our body that won’t benefit from iodine. Some other advantages of iodine intake include harmonizing hormones, detoxifying heavy metals and halides, fighting fungus, bacteria and viruses, and regulating metabolism. With all these amazing perks, who wouldn’t want to go out and get some of this incredible stuff? Consuming more iodine rich foods is a good start. If supplementing, which may be necessary due to the nation wide deficit of this mineral even in our soils, Artemis recommends an alcohol free/aqueous iodine in an atomic, nascent form.
There are other things we can do to ensure breast health. Maintaining good gut flora is so very important. A high quality, high potency probiotic can be taken daily, as well as eating a wide variety of naturally fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchee, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh. I personally choose to avoid soy.
A healthy diet is crucial. Eat plenty of dark leafy green vegetables form the brassicas family, including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and bok choy. These are high in indole-3-carbinol, a substance known to inhibit the growth of malignant cells in the breast tissue. A high fiber diet is recommended (approximately 30 grams a day.) Eat whole, organic foods as much as possible and be sure to eat a rainbow of colours in the form of fruits and veggies daily. Introduce seaweed into your diet if not already eating it. It’s a good idea to supplement with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. And remember to stay well hydrated with pure water.
Breast massage is a vital component for your overall health. There is an intricate system of lymph nodes under the armpits and around the breasts. The lymphatic system is extensive; even larger than our circulatory system. It is responsible for toxins exiting the body. Massage will stimulate proper lymph draining which helps release excess estrogen. Not to mention the other benefits of breast massage, such as firming the connective tissue and enhancing skin’s elasticity. Strokes are best when applied inwards and upwards towards the nipples. Circular motions are also beneficial. Cheryl Chapman, author of The Happy Breast Book, coined a term called Phluff Your Girls, that is an easy way to maintain breast health. Short video instructions on how to do this technique can be found on You Tube.
Other factors that will stimulate the lymph nodes are good posture, and relaxing the muscles of the neck, shoulders, chest and back. Exercise and deep breathing will also help. Ditch societal expectations and say NO to bras, especially push up and underwire bras. If you must wear something for support, consider cotton, sport style bras. Also, let your boobs hang loose from time to time. Shake them around a bit. This will keep lymph flowing and cells happy.
Consider giving up your anti-perspirant and replace it with a natural deodorant, or an essential oil-based formula. Anti-perspirants block our sweat glands from doing what they’re meant to do. Over time, this will mess up our natural process of toxin elimination, which causes a back up that leads to more dis-ease. Various forms of aluminum get absorbed into your skin, entering the bloodstream and altering the function of the blood/brain barrier. These are poisonous neurotoxins responsible for breast cancers and Alzheimer’s so keep them out of your daily routine. Don’t sweat it – there are many healthy alternatives to keep you smelling and feeling fresh all day.
Dry skin brushing will encourage good circulation and lymphatic drainage. Always practice brushing towards the heart. Natural bristles are best. Jumping on a trampoline or a rebounder will support your lymph flow as well as using a vibration plate. Essential oils that help promote healthy lymph drainage include cypress, laurel and yarrow.
Essential Oils can be our best friends on the health and wellness journey. These potent plant essences contain beneficial chemical constituents that aid in healing and help maintain wellbeing. Essential oils can be categorized into families based on their primary components.
Terpenes have multiple benefits, including helping the body breakdown carcinogens and kill off abnormal cells. Conifer essential oils – the ones derived from evergreen trees – are especially high in terpenes. Monoterpene in particular helps to prevent the initiation and progression of cancerous cells in the body.
Many citrus essential oils are high in a chemical compound called limonene. Limonene can help restore balance to our endocrine system, which is in charge of our hormones. It does this by stimulating special enzymes in the liver to detoxify excess estrogen, which we learned earlier as being the leading cause of breast cancer. Limonene has also been shown to prevent mammary cancer when studied in mice. Orange essential oil, lemon, grapefruit and tangerine contain high amounts of this beneficial constituent. One thing to note is that citrus oils are photosensitizing, so avoid exposure to the sun for several hours after application to the skin.
I have been massaging my breasts almost daily for many years now. I’ve played around with different oils and recipes and I’m excited to share my favourite blend with you all. It’s rich with beneficial essential oils and carrier oils to feed and nourish the breast tissues and assist with lymph drainage. I’m in the process of creating labels and will be offering this massage oil to purchase at a special introductory price. Stay tuned, and remember…that taking exquisite care of our breasts can be easy. As Nadine Artemis so eloquently summarizes for us “at the heart of basic breast care is real food, sunshine, iodine and being sure your skin drinks in body care that is brimming with botanical medicine.”