BY TONI CHAMBERS - Clinical Nutritionist
The world we live in is increasingly toxic and our food choices are often questionable. In order to reduce our risk of developing breast issues including painful, swollen breasts, and more sinister conditions including breast cancer, it’s important to do a stock take of our diet and lifestyle.
Oestrogen is a steroid hormone that, when in high enough amounts, can contribute to the development of breast cancer. There are several sources of oestrogen: our liver makes it, our breast makes it, and we are exposed to what’s called xenoestrogens. These are man-made chemicals that act like oestrogen in the body.
An increase in fat tissue in the breast also increases oestrogen levels by increasing breast production of oestrogen. 2
Other factors that increase oestrogen in breast tissue are IVF and Oral Contraceptive Pill use. Coupled with a reduced ability to remove oestrogen from the body, this increases the amount of the hormone in the body.
So these are the problems, what are the solutions?
The aim is to reduce our exposure to oestrogen:
🛒 Complete an environmental stock take, looking specifically at xenoestrogens – found in plastics, air pollution, pesticides, personal care products. Reduce/eliminate plastics from your household (plastic bags, plastic wrap and plastic containers for food storage can gradually be replaced with stainless steel and glass containers and cloth or bamboo food bags); wash non-organic fruits and vegetables in white vinegar and water before use to remove pesticide residues. Consider making your own cleaning products with bicarbonate and vinegar – it’s all you need. Check the labels of all of your personal care products and ensure they contain ingredients you can pronounce and are devoid of the ones you can’t including phthalates and parabens; better still, make your own! Drink your coffee from a glass or stainless steel BYO cup as takeaway cups are coated in plastic! Invest in a reverse osmosis water filter to remove the nasties from your tap water! If you don’t filter your water, you become the filter. Invest in some indoor plants (not in your bedroom though!) to
help filter the air. Overwhelming? Don’t stress, these changes can be made gradually. Every time you finish an item, just replace with a new version.
🧴 Everything that touches your chest matters including soaps, moisturisers, perfumes and body oils; bras, undergarment and clothing material. Use natural fibres where possible, including wool and cotton.
🏃♀️ Make sure you sweat – either through exercise or regular trips to the sauna.
🌹 Consider changing to a natural deodorant.
🤸♀️ Get plenty of exercise as this is a natural detoxifier, among its many other benefits. Exercise reduces oestrogen levels; and improves our body’s response to eating carbohydrates. 20
🧀 Remove dairy – dairy contributes to 15% higher oestrogen. 16
🍎 Consume 30g of fibre daily by eating a diet with a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables. Fibre encourages the removal of oestrogen from the body via the bowels. 17
☕ Removing methylxanthines found in coffee, black tea, chocolate and cola drinks significantly reduces pain associated with fibrocystic breasts. Half of all reproductive aged women suffer from fibrocystic breasts. 18
🍷 Remove or reduce alcohol as it increases oestrogen levels. 19
🥦 Consider cruciferous vegetables, rosemary and flaxseed to support healthy oestrogen levels.
🍣 Lean sources of protein in adequate amounts (1.8-2g/kg of body weight/day) ensures optimal liver functioning.
THE MAIN SUPPLEMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR HEALTHY BREASTS ARE
❤️🩹 Iron – low iron levels in the blood can mean higher oestrogen levels. 5
❤️🩹 Magnesium – helps reduce oestrogen. 6
❤️🩹 Iodine – High doses (only to be prescribed by a healthcare practitioner) can alleviate the symptoms of fibrocystic breasts. 7
❤️🩹 Vitamin D – reduces oestrogen production in the breast. 8
❤️🩹 Zinc – interferes with prolactin synthesis, storage, release and peripheral action. If deficient, check copper and oestrogen levels as copper is raised with increased oestrogen. 9
❤️🩹 Vitamin B6 – with or without evening primrose oil reduces pain for women with fibrocystic breasts. 10
❤️🩹 Vitamin C – indirectly reduces oestrogen. 12
❤️🩹 Vitamin E – indirectly reduces oestrogen. 13
❤️🩹 Glutathione – helps normalise liver detoxification pathways; it is an antioxidant, and is involved in cancer prevention. 15
Toni Chambers is a Clinical Nutritionist, B. Health Sc (Nut. Med.) from True Foods Nutrition in Sydney, Australia.
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