Breast Health

breast_healthHow does a woman keep her breasts healthy? If she has had problems with painful breasts or breast cysts is there anything you can do naturally to help? How can we prevent breast cells changing? Are there any natural substances that help keep the breasts going well?


First of all let’s talk about the minerals that are known to help the breast tissue stay healthy.

Selenium is a mineral that is rich in Brazil nuts, but poor in New Zealand soils. Veterinary medicine is used to helping sheep and farm animals supplement their selenium as an important component of their health.

So how about us humans?

There are some research studies comparing healthy Japanese and American women to Japanese and American women with fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer. The interesting thing is that those women who have better selenium levels seem to be the ones with the healthier breast tissues.

The recommended daily dose for breast health seems to be about 200 micrograms or more. Selenium gets toxic once you go over 800 micrograms, so keep to a medium level 200-300 microgram daily dose if supplementing. There are cases of fibrocystic breast disease clearing up in studies where women took about 100-200micrograms of selenium for 6 months.

Iodine is another essential mineral for breast health. If you have auto-immune thyroid disease (positive thyroid antibodies) please check with your health practitioner before taking iodine supplements. Otherwise if your thyroid is healthy and not under immune attack, it is wise to get some iodine into your diet or to consider supplementing if you want to help fibrocystic breast disease. Doses of up to 6-12mg per day (the average amount consumed on a Japanese diet) are safe and supplemental iodine drops usually have safe doses of iodine in them. If you overdo iodine you may notice your heart increase in rate and speed up metabolism.
Fibrocystic breasts are those sore, lumpy breasts that get fluid filled cysts.

Iodine is an amazing anti-oxidant and anti-proliferative (stops growth) agent. Seaweeds such as kelp and other forms are rich in iodine. Asian women are known for their low rate of breast fibrocystic and cancer disease and their high consumption of seaweeds. The Asian iodine consumption is 25 times higher than women on a classic Western diet.

In research, iodine has been found to have a positive effect on stopping the growth of both benign and cancerous cell growth. Chlorine and fluoride in water compete with iodine and can deplete it in our bodies. Better to keep on the filtered waters and swim in the ocean or lakes.

Melatonin is the substance that our body makes and releases as we go to sleep at night. Sunlight on the eyes helps create the precursors to melatonin. Magnesium and co factors like zinc, B6 are all important to making melatonin. Some women take larger doses of melatonin safely to help them due to the anti – proliferative effects. Melatonin at doses of 10-20mg has been shown to help inhibit the direct effects of estrogen on growing breast cancer cells. Another reason for some sunshine!

Progesterone is an interesting hormone. It has a natural calming influence and helps sleep. Population studies have found pre-menopausal women with a low progesterone level having more (5.4x) incidence of breast cancer. Studies show that progesterone inhibits the growth of breast cells in live patient studies and helps balance the tendency of estrogen to make things grow. Dr Helen doesn't prescribe progesterone cream, but can work with you to naturally improve your own levels of progesterone in your body via the adrenal gland health.

Healthy fats are important for breast health. Fish oils rich in an essential fatty acid called DHA have been found to again have an anti-proliferative effect on breast cancer cells and actually help prevent the spread of breast cancer cells to elsewhere in the body.

Evening Primrose Oil (EPO, Gamma linoleic Acid ,GLA) has been used by doctors and natural health practitioners alike to help treat breast pain or “mastalgia”. Doses of 3000 mg seem effective. You could take 1 three times a day or three with a big meal to get a good dose of EPO. Some of the research studies also added 600 units of Vitamin E and again had good results either with EPO or just Vitamin E on its own for 6 months daily. It is best taken with a meal.

Vitamin E also has potent anti-proliferative effects and helps bring on cancer cell death (called “apoptosis”) so that the cancer cells don’t even grow to any stage that causes trouble. Natural forms of Vitamin E from food sources are best.

Vitamin D: Apoptosis or “programmed cell death” is the way the body cleans up any cells that are changing in their DNA or turning cancerous. Vitamin D is brilliant at helping with “apoptosis” especially in breast cancer cells. Therefore it is important to either take a good daily dose of Vitamin D or make sure you get regular sunshine – not so you burn the skin – but enough to get Vitamin D being made and at a good level in the body.

Vitamin C rich in many plants – fruit and vegetables – onions, new potatoes, yams, capsicums, berries, ripe fruit. Vitamin C goes into cancer cells and helps destroy them. Vitamin C helps keep the structure of the body strong and helps the immune system fight off infections.

Foods that help keep the breast healthy.

Oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel! Cod liver oil rich in Vitamin A and D is also a great health immune boosting food.

Fermented foods like fermented natural milk full of lactobacilli and natural good bifidobacteria seem to help have an anti-proliferative effect on breast cancer cells. More work needs doing on this area. If you want to avoid dairy there are fermented cabbage foods (sauerkraut) and fermented coconut green milk products you can take to help keep cells healthy in your body.

Cabbages are rich in the indole-3-carbinol which helps keep the estrogen in your body in a very healthy form. Women often take a supplement called Di-indole methane of DIM which has this indole-3-carbinole from the cabbage family of plants – broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale and so on.

Pineapple is rich in an enzyme that helps digestion, but is also thought to help break down cancer cell walls. Bromelain is the name of the pineapple enzyme and it is often in digestive enzyme supplements and can help keep the body healthy and breakdown cells that need to be cleaned up by the immune system.

Carrots contain betacarotene which is thought to also be great for breast cell health.

Regular consumption of green foods, green smoothies, powdered greens keeps up the important alkaline, anti-oxidant rich, oxygen rich substances to help your body stay cancer free or help it to clean up any cancer cells and recover from any radiation or chemical destruction as part of treatments.

Lastly a brief word on exercise and bras – breasts stay a lot healthier with some regular exercise and time without wearing an underwire bra – such as when you sleep at night - so the lymph systems can come in and keep the breast healthy.

There we go – if you do some or all of the above you’ll be helping your breast health a lot!