April 26th 2007 - Alternative Medicine Breast Care
copyright by Karen S. Vaughan L.Ac., MSTOM
One out of eight women get breast cancer as do a smaller number of men. This means that most of us will find that breast cancer directly or indirectly affects us.
There are many things a woman can do to minimize the chance of getting breast cancer. Chief among these is to avoid wearing bras or garments that constrict lymphatic fluid flow so the body can detoxify. (The correlation between bra wearing and breast cancer is fortyfold greater than the correlation between cigarettes and lung cancer according to Singer and Grismaijer's study published in the book _Dressed To Kill_.)
I used to have breasts with so much texture that I never would have been able to distinguish a dangerous lump during a manual self-exam, but now without constant bra constriction they are gone. It can ache the first week or two as you are detoxifying, but lump clearing can be dramatic. And Japanese research indicates that the increase in "exercise" is slightly firming (although gravity will eventually take its toll no matter what.)
Acupuncture and exercise can circulate lymph.
Massaging the breasts and lymph nodes near the underarms can also help detoxification. Massage can be a friendlier, more pleasurable method of self-examination. A good, well-illustrated, description of this can be found at:http://www.free-beauty-tips.com/breastmassage.html and self exam information is at http://fpnotebook.com/GYN142.htm
While a high -NOT low-fat diet was associated with lower rates of the most important cancers in the Farmington nurses study, the quality of fats is vitally important. Diet should stress Omega 3s (from fish oil or grass-raised meat- vegetarians can use flax or evening primrose oils) and CLA from coconut oil or grass-raised dairy. Vegetables, especially those in the mustard family (cabbage, broccoli, caulifolwer, brussel sprouts, bok choy, mustard greens) should be the dietary mainstay. Seasonal liver cleanses can help establish hormone balance and detoxify the body.
Mammograms after 50 may be useful, but take miso soup before and afterwards to help limit the concentrated radiation exposure. While there is contraversy about the frequency, it can be a useful technique to find lumps before they are palpable. But there is no single foolproof method of detection so women need to use a multi-pronged methodology- self examination (including indentations of the exterior skin), mammograms and blood tests like the AMAS.
HRT should generally be avoided because hormonal analogues can increase cancer risk. Bio-identical hormones (eg: progesterone instead of progestin, estradriol instead of Premarin) cause fewer problems if hormonal replacement is needed.
A strong spiritual life and social supports like SHARE groups not only help prevent cancer, but increase survival rates afterwords.
And acupuncture and herbal therapy can minimize side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
The Fig Cure
A lesser-known way to maintain breast health is fig poultices. Really! I learned this from an elderly friend who taught me about herbal medicine, Inez Culver. She had come to see me with a breast lump the size of an egg, which was angry and distended. She cut a fresh fig in half and fixed the end over her nipple, changing the fig every 24 hours. By the time she showed up for the biopsy two weeks later, the doctor couldn't find the lump. She told me that the use derived from the treatment of Hezekiah's boils in the Biblical book of Isaiah. Since then I've discovered that the latex in figs is pharmacologically quite active and the meat contains hormonal precursors. This will most probably NOT get rid of cancer, but it does help clear the breast of cysts and other stagnation lumps so that more dangerous lumps can be detected. I do it preventatively for a week every year and suggest it for others.
Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac in Park Slope and Manhattan.
118 East 37th Street, New York, NY 10016
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Illustration by Hanne Finstad at Communicating Science http://www.commsci.no/index.php/illustrations used by permission http://www.free-beauty-tips.com/breastmassage.html