- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
FIBROCYSTIC DISEASE OF THE BREAST ~ A personal Experience
WHAT IS IT?
What is Fibrocystic Disease of the Breast? Well, it isn't a disease. It is a condition that causes pain, cysts, and benign breast lumps. It is a condition that supposedly can affect women between the ages of 25 and 50 years of age; however I know from personal experience that the onset can occur much earlier than age 25 and last well past the age of 50.
From this point on I will refer to this condition as FBD. If you are not familiar with FBD, you may be familiar with some of these terms: fibrocystic changes, chronic mastitis, or mammary dysplasia. They all mean pretty much the same thing.
Is FBD a serious condition? Not necessarily; however, any time a woman discovers a lump in her breast she should seek immediate medical attention for a prompt diagnosis. An unusual lump in the breast is the most common sign of breast cancer.
I developed FBD around the age of 16. I spent the next 29 years in pain...sometimes agony, unable to breast feed my babies, and left to experience a somewhat awkward sex life. I guarded my breast the way men guard their genitals. I had such a severe case, the water streaming from the shower head was sometimes unbearable. You can imagine my dread of annual breast exams (in my case every six months). They left me utterly, no pun intended, in tears. It was not until I began menopause that a very kind doctor offered treatment for this long suffered condition. I will tell you about that experience later.
THE ESTROGEN CONNECTION
Hormones play an intrigal part in breast heath, specifiacally Estrogen; but too much Estrogen can cause devistating mutations to occur in the breast.
The breast is made up of glands, lobes, lobules, blood vessels, and fat cells; and breast cancer is a mass of genetically malfunctioning cells that begin to mutate. Breast cancers emerge due to a combination of genetics, carcinogens, immune responses, hormones, and tissue composition. The tissues have receptors that are targeted by the estrogen hormone. The fat cells break down the estrogen. This breakdown produces carcinogenic by-products. Carcinogens affect the DNA of nearby cells which can cause them to mutate into cancer. Some women's breast is more susceptible than others to the effects of estrogen.
Estrogen hormones are uniquely responsible for the growth and development of female sexual characteristics and reproduction. They also affect the brain, bone, liver , heart, and other tissues. Estrogen tell your cells to proliferate, so when our bodies are subject to more Estrogen that it would normally produce, Estrogen dominance occurs, which in turn causes Fibrocystic Breast Disease.
I had no Idea!
THE CHEMICAL CONNECTION
There are approximately 1000,000 different chemicals on the market today, and although only a small portion of them have been tested, we know some of them produce estrogen mimicing by-products called Xenoestrogens. Some of the chemical estrogens can be found at levels 100 times higher than what our body produces naturally. Consequently, women and men are getting too much estrogen.
What is even more alarming is that most of the products we consume and use on a daily bases are manufactured using chemicals that are either a Xenoestrogen or produce Xenoestrogen as a by-product. The following products can be found in almost every home or business: plastic water bottles, PVC pipes, food storage containers, detergent, and personal care products like shampoo, skin lotions, sunscreen, gels, birth control pills, spermacides, herbicides, IV bags, canned foods, produce, and meats.
Research and expeirments have shown that chemical additives used to make plastics last longer, have estrogen stimulating effects on breast cancer in the test tube at one parts per billion. It was also found that in the English rivers, sewage effluent draining into the river contained detergent breakdown porducts that stimulated estrogen receptors creating hermaphrodite trout.
It is also common practice in agriculture to use estrogen to fatten up cattle and chickens in order to progress their maturity at a faster rate, make them heavier, and more tender. It is highly possible that these artificial estrogens are then consumed by consumers.
There have been reported cases (70's & 80's) in Puerto Rico of early puberty in girls and young boys developing breasts because of eating meat and dairy products with high amounts of estrogens. Today in the United States young girls are starting puberty at earlier ages, 15% of them are 8 years old.
There is still a great deal that is not known, and the exact implications these chemicals might have on humans is still being researched. But it would seem to me that the "proof is pretty much in the pudding" as the old saying goes.
There is much todo about organic and natural products in today's supermarkets, but even they are not without risks. It is good to know that research done by Lilian Thompson, PhD, showed that ingesting ground flax seed actually reduced the size of breast cancer from the time it was diagnosed and the time of surgery. The following plants however, might prove to cause some problems.
Clover, Red Clover Tea, and Alfalfa sprouts produce Formononetin which mimics estrogen. Sunflower seeds in tests on rats, caused permanent reproductive problems, and Queen Ann's Lace (wild carrot) was used during the 4thcentury B.C. to prevent pregnancies. Pomegranate was used by the Greeks as a contraceptive and Fennel was used in the ancient world as a contraceptive and to precipitate abortions. Licorice, Yucca, Hops (used in beer), and Motherwort was shown to stimulate estrogen receptor positive breast cell to grow.
Bloodroot, Ocotillo, Mandrake, Oregano, Damiana, Pennyroyal, Verbenna, Nutmeg, Tumeric, Yucca, Thyme, Calamus rt., Red Clover, Goldenseal, Licorice, Mistletoe, Cumin, Fennel, Camomille, and Cloves are able to bind to the progesterone receptor and compete against natural progesterone and work against it or block it.
Pharmaceutical companies routinely travel to the jungles to seek native cures. They modify traditional herbal remedies to create prescription drugs. One such example is digoxin that is derived from a traditional Irish tea and the foxglove plant. Many herbs, foods and spices have estrogen activity as well as progesterone activity. In general, of a people group has been eating a particular food for centuries and have relatively small amounts of estrogen linked diseases, the food is safe to consume in reasonable quantities.
If you suffer from FBD or have cronic breast tenderness, the following advise might prove to be beneficial in eleviating your symptoms.
- Avoid coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, and Beer
- Avoid Sunflower Seeds, Red Clover Tea, Camomille Tea, Alfalfa Sprouts, Queen Anne's Lace, Pomegranate, Fennel, Licorice, Red Clover, Yucca, Hops (beer), and Motherwort.
- Avoid Phytoestrogens that block and interfere with the action of Natural Progesterone. Avoid Bloodroot, Ocotillo, Mandrake, Oregano, Damiana, Pennyroyal, Verbenna, Nutmeg, Tumeric, Yucca, Thyme, Calamus rt., Red Clover, Goldenseal, Licorice, Mistletoe, Cumin, Fennel, Camomille, and Cloves.
- No Sunflower Oil and No Cotton Seed Oil.
I was surprised to discover that so many natural plants, may of which I use regularly, might be contributing to my condition. I try to eat healthier these days and I pay better attention to the ingredients listed on the prepared foods I purchase, but I just can't find the will power to give up that morning cup of coffee.
THE KINDLY DOCTOOR
Well, as I said earlier, I have had Fibrocystic Breast Disease for many, many, years... most of them spent in ignorance. But as time proceeded, Mother Nature demanded an end to my passive acceptance. I began menopause at the age of 45 and was insane by the age of 48, or possessed...I wasn't sure.
I was due for my routine yearly gynecological exam. Under the circumstances I decided to depart from my usual..."I'm fine," charade and buck up to an all out confession. To make things easier on myself, and prevent my usual laps of memory during this stressful ordeal, I made a list of all of my physical symptoms, emotional spirals, and every ache and pain I was experiencing. I tucked the list inside my purse as I left for my appointment.
It was my first visit with this doctor, because we only recently had moved back to Louisiana. So when my new doctor walked into the examining room and asked me the all too familiar question, "how are you today?" I took the list out of my purse - handed it to him, and said, "I want to know if I am losing my mind." He looked startled as he took my folded piece of paper, but began to read my list of complaints. He finished with a chuckle, and handed the list back to me with these words: "you haven't lost your mind, you are going through menopause."
I wish I could say that this revelation made me happy. I was relieved to find out that I was not insane, but oh...this truth was not going to set me free.
Well, as these exams go, it progressed to the breast palpitations. I cried. The doctor seemed surprised, and asked how long I had experienced such severe tenderness in my breast. I told him my story, and he wanted to know why I had never been prescribed medication for this condition. I explained that I had never been informed that such a medication exists. He seemed upset by my response and promised me that after the exam, he would take care of all my problems.
He was true to his word. I left with a prescription for hormones and one for 50 mg of Danocrine, a brand of danazol, a synthetic steroid. In no time at all my symptoms eased. I took both medications for a period of almost 10 years. Over the years I became a little more educated about certain medications and decided it was no longer in the best interest of my health to continue taking hormones and steroids.
Thank goodness menopause is over and I no longer suffer the symptoms of Fibrocystic Breast Disease with such severity. They seemed to have diminished with the maniacal mood swings and hot flashes. I became sane again and my husband came out of hiding. Poor man. There should be a medal of honor for husbands who stick with us...continue to love us, through menopause.
In conclusion, I cannot with all certainty say that Xenoestrogens caused my Fibrocystic Breast Disease, because my mother had it also; but in searching out information on this condition I stumbled upon some unexpected facts. I hope I have contributed some bit of information that might be of help to anyone suffering from FBD.