October has been associated with breast cancer awareness.
I think we are aware of breast cancer. What I believe we need to be aware of is breast health. So I would prefer to call this Breast Health Awareness month. In order to support this idea, I am going to write a series of articles about this subject through the month. During the last talk at The Body Therapy Center, I provided this information all in one go. It is a lot of information, so breaking it up may make it seem less overwhelming.
My desire is for you to find one or two things that you can do on a daily basis that are simple to incorporate, but can have a significant impact on your health, if you do them daily, or at least whenever you think of them.
I want to start by saying my focus is on the health of our breasts. Although it is valid to think “What would I do if I had breast cancer?”, I think it makes more sense to think “How can I take such good care of myself that I reduce the chances of getting it?”
Just so you know, health and un-health happen. If you get sick, it is not your “fault”, that you are somehow to blame. There are many factors at bay that we are not in control of. The point is to “up the chances” of staying healthy. That’s all we can do, but I think it is important.
However, I want to ask you to think about this:
Is the way you are living killing you?
Do you feel like the things you are doing need to change?
I feel it is important to consider what we can do to maintain as much breast health as possible. Unfortunately, not much information in this area is available. Somehow health doesn’t get researched as much as sickness and disease. That is the point of this discussion, to make you aware of what information is out there, and you can decide what steps you want to take from there.
In order to understand how to keep our breasts healthy, we first need a bit of understanding of the anatomy of the breast, because many of us don’t really think of their complex structure. This is an oversimplified breakdown of the structures of the breast, but it is enough to realize how little most of us know or consider.
Anatomy of the Breast:
Our breasts are very complex, and as we get older, they get a bit more so. Within our breasts is a portion of our lymph system, including “nodes”, interstitial fluid (basically our cell’s sewage system), blood vessels, fatty tissue, ligaments, fascia and the whole milk duct and gland system. Oh yes, and blood circulates through the entire breast to all the cells, as well.
Beneath our breast tissue are muscles such as the pectorals muscles, as well as the ligaments and fascia that affect our breast tissue. We also have skin, which some call an organ because it has so many important functions.
Then don’t forget all the cells that make up all the tissues of the breasts, from blood cells to skin cells, they all are very important in the functioning of every muscle, gland and fluid.
Our goal is to figure out how to take care of all these things, so we can maintain healthy functioning of our breasts. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Plus, all these things are effected by the rest of the functioning of our body, but for now we will only focus on things that we can directly support in our breasts.
Let’s review, we have:
Muscles and ligaments
Milk glands and ducts
Cells of all of the tissues
General health of the body
The Lymph System
Let’s start with the Lymph System, since it plays such a vital role in the health of these systems. As I said, it is basically the sewage system of the body. It’s function is to take the waste of the cells in the lymph fluid, and return it to the circulatory system; but first it is filtered through a series of nodes that have focused white blood cells to destroy harmful organisms. This is where viruses are destroyed, bacteria is killed and threats attacked; basically the heart of the immune system. If things get “stuck” here, the rest of the system gets backed up. So we need to keep the lymph system moving.
Muscles, the pump of our immune system:
The pump of our immune system, the lymph system, is our muscles. As they contact and release, the fluid is allowed to travel up from our feet to our heart. There are other things that affect this, but muscle movement is vital. Our breasts themselves don’t have muscles to move the lymph along, but the muscles beneath our breasts do affect the breast lymph. So
how do we support these muscles? Move them.
Lift your arms above your head. Do you feel the muscles in your chest move? Now move them behind your body, keeping your arms straight. Feel the stretch in those muscles? Now move them forward, do you feel much? Probably not, because this is how we keep our arms most of the day, in front of us. Basically, any arm movements that we do that are not how we are all day, are beneficial. Reach for that top shelf in your kitchen, grab the top of the doorway as you walk through it, maybe do some weights machines at the gym, or do some gentle push ups. Anything you do is helping pump the lymph through your breasts.
Here is the good part, these same movements also affect the circulatory system of the breasts, as well as the skin, the fascia and the cells. Good job! Many benefits in one activity.
Manipulating Breast Tissue:
In the same frame as muscle movement is breast tissue manipulation. You may have heard of “Phluffing your breasts”, or other programs where you manipulate or massage your breasts. Lymph brushing I would even include in here. Anything that manipulates the tissue is great for the lymph and the cells of the breast tissue.
You can choose from some of these methods, but I believe what is important is that you somehow massage your breasts daily. Yep! I said daily. Not once a month, but at least every day that you wear a bra. This is also a great way to get to know your breasts intimately! If you do this, I believe you will have a better understanding of how they change through the month and through your life.
You can bend forward and feel what that does to your tissue. You can move them all around and feel the ligamentous structure to your breasts. You can apply pressure to areas to see if there are sensitive areas, and keep in mind your breasts are sensitive tissues, so work gently. Feel all around and feel all the lumps and bumps throughout the breast tissue. Can you feel the milk glands? What else can you maybe feel? Be curious. These are your breasts, they are part of your body. Don’t ignore them.
If you have cystic breasts, I believe this is even more important. To be able to track the changes in your breasts during the month and years gives you an understanding of maybe what affects them. Maybe it is more than just hormones. I am not an expert, but you should be, they are your breasts.
Some people have heard that jumping our bouncing on a rebounder is supportive of the lymph system. A rebounder is a simple mini tramp. You can get inexpensive one and very expensive ones. Some people are skeptical of the benefits of these, or think the idea is just a bit weird. I just thought I would let you know that it was NASA that did the research and found the benefits of the rebounder so beneficial for the astronauts to redevelop their strength after being in space, and further researched the other benefits. My favorite part about a rebounder is that it is so much fun. Give it a try.
So let me review again:
Movement of the arms
Manipulation of the breasts,
Movement of the body
These simple things can benefit not just the lymph system, but the circulatory system, the muscles surrounding the breasts as well as the ligaments supporting the breasts. And, through doing this, you can get to know your breasts to learn to detect changes in your breasts as they occur. So far it sounds like some simple things done daily can be a great help.
I know this may sound rather simple, but if you can take just one action today, and consider adding more movement to your life, I believe many of the health benefits will become clear to you as you do them.
In my next segment, I will focus on some of the restrictions of our breast lymph system, what you can do about them; and ask you to think about what you are putting on the precious skin around your breasts.
My third article with cover food as medicine. You know I can’t talk about health and leave out the building blocks of what our cells are made from.
My final article will cover stress, and diagnostic tools.
Here are some resources for you:
breasthealthproject.com or check out This Video on Youtube.
An online picture of Phluffing your breasts.
You can start with a mini trampoline at a sports equipment store. However, if you and your family really get addicted, you can upgrade to the very sturdy ones. I just list two of the best that I know of here, but there are probably more.
Bellicon.com—this is more expensive, but uses essentially bungee cords, and is very comfortable! You also need to replace the cords from time to time.
If you know someone who is concerned about breast cancer, please feel free to send them this article, so they can be aware of things they can do to retain their health.