Our tips for better breast health will make you look – and feel – great!
By Chere Di Boscio
We need to talk about your boobs, ladies. Your Lolas. The girls. They’re pretty important. They serve to attract a mate, and to feed babies. They look great in a dress. But they’re delicate little flowers, and are prone to getting cancer, so we need to take super good care of these super gorgeous appendages!
Thing is, there’s a lot – and I mean, a LOT – of misinformation and disinformation out there. It comes from women’s magazines, cancer charities, university studies and independent researchers. And somewhere within that lies the truth.
Here, I’m going to do my best to give you some top tips for better breast health. These tips will not only keep your breasts healthy and hopefully cancer-free, but looking great, too!
But as always, do your own research, and see this as a starter guide. I’m not a doctor, and this is only intended as an information share. If you find out anything important not mentioned here, please share it in the comments section, below.
8 Surprising Tips for Better Breast Health
1. Rethink Your Bra
Can underwire bras cause cancer? The debate as to whether or not underwire bras can harm breast health began way back in 1995 with a book called Dressed to Kill. Authors Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, a husband and wife medical anthropologist team, claimed that women who wore tight-fitting bras all day, every day, had a much higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who went braless. The authors claimed that by inhibiting lymphatic drainage, bras trapped toxins in the breast tissue, which caused cancer.
Whilst this claim has been rubbished by many physicians, other doctors and researchers now agree that wearing a tight fitting bra daily can cut off lymph drainage, which can contribute to the development of breast cancer.
So what to do? First, there’s probably nothing wrong with rocking a push-up every now and then – just not all day, every day. For daily use, try buying a non-underwired bra. This comfy, wireless number below by Lucile & Co Lingerie, shows just how sexy non-pushups can be!
2. Avoid Toxic Clothes Dyes
Here’s another of our surprising tips for better breast health. Given that dyes used in clothing tend to come out in the wash and fade, why wouldn’t they also come out on your skin when you sweat? This is the concern that Su Dodds, of FROM Clothing, based a business on. After watching Greenpeace’s Toxic Threads campaign for some time, she became concerned with the probability that dye from our clothing could be seeping into our pores – especially from sports bras, which sit close to the lymph nodes and interact with loads of sweat.
Greenpeace has indeed researched this issue and found high levels of cancer-causing phthalates in four garments tested, while nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) were found in 89 garments (63 percent of those tested). These chemicals are definitely dumped into our waterways, both during the production process and when we wash them, but whether or not they can seep into our skin from our clothing has yet to be determined.
3. Treat Cracked or Sore Nipples Naturally
As any distance runner or new mother knows, nipples are sensitive little things. Even a tiny bit of friction can lead to cracks and sensitivity, and a hungry baby can lead to skin issues you never imagined possible. These are seriously delicate glands and when they’re damaged, whatever you put on them will enter your bloodstream, so it’s vital to use an all natural, deeply hydrating product to deal with any nipple issues. And yet it’s shocking to see that many women smear petroleum-based byproducts in this area! Just say NO to that and use a 100% natural product like Motherlove, below – or even just butter or olive oil!
4. Use Cleaner Creams
Some women experience saggy breasts, which is due to the skin stretching and collagen levels lowering over time. You can help to tone up and repair some of the skin with a breast firming cream. But again, as this is a delicate area with thin skin, full of lymph glands. So using an all natural cream, like this one by Dr Organic, is best. Alternatively, for better breast health, French women swear by blasting their breasts with cold water at the end of a shower. Chilly…but it’s worth a try!
5. Rethink Breast Implants
This might be one of the most important better breast health tips. Hundreds of European women recently learned the hard way that not all breast implants are considered safe – their PIP implants leaked, and they ended up with serious health issues.
Indeed, putting anything foreign in such a delicate area is totally risky, even soya (which is particularly potentially harmful since it’s a genetically modified crop) or silicone. In fact, silicone can cause all kinds of toxicity problems that can lead to all kinds of illnesses from Reynaud’s Syndrome to cancer, according to doctor Susan Kolb.
But I totally get that some women really want to reshape their breasts to boost their confidence. Thank goodness the ’80s are over, and the rock hard, hugemongous porn star boob look is over. If you’re not happy with the shape of your breasts, why not consider a fat transfer using your own tissue, or a breast lift, instead?
6. Be Careful With Underarm Deodorants
Because doctors have noticed that many breast tumours start in the outer quadrant of the breast (where we often put deodorant), many researchers have made links between aluminium in deodorants and antiperspirants and cancer. It has also been suggested that breasts are vulnerable to chemicals because we shave the hairs away from very close to our breast tissue, and of course, there are plenty of lymph nodes there. Yet, despite all this research, several cancer charities and institutes say ‘there is no evidence’ to support those theories.
Seeing that in print gave me a seriously WTF moment, as the cancer charity in question literally listed the publications showing the links between breast cancer and chemicals in underarm products right below their rubbishing of those studies…(as you can see for yourself if you click on the previous link).
The also dismissed the notion that parabens in personal grooming products used in this area may contribute to breast cancer, despite the fact that studies such as these have been done, and despite Europe banning parabens in skincare products for their carcinogenic effects. It seems it’s up to us to muddle through the information and disinformation out there, but for me personally, I’d rather be safe than sorry! For that reason I use no or natural deodorants.
7. Invest In A Good Sports Bra
As any runner knows, physical activity makes breasts bounce up, down and all around. For this, reason, a good sports bra is essential. Breasts have no muscle, and without proper support, the skin and Cooper’s ligaments near the breast which give them their size and shape can break down and cause sagging. Once those ligaments stretch out, they don’t get back into shape.
No matter what size your breasts are, you should always wear a sports bra while running or exercising. This is a better breast health tip that anyone can implement. There are different kinds, from compression bras, which press the breasts closer to the chest to restrict movement; encapsulation bras with cups to support each breast, and best of all, combination bras, which offer both compression and encapsulation. For maximum support, avoid spaghetti strap bras and go for racer backed or thick-strapped bras instead.
Overall, your sports bra should feel a bit tighter than your everyday one, but you should be able to breathe deeply and comfortably. Oh – and it’s a good idea to ensure that only natural dyes are used in your sports bra (remember point 2, above!).
8. Seriously Question Mammograms
Our final better breast health tip might be the most controversial…
Your doctor will tell you that once you turn 40, or in some cases, 50, you need to get these done annually. But you know what? I have zero plans to do that. Why? Because my very sensible, rather holistic, German doctor informed me that mammograms work using – wait for it – radiation. So, I’m supposed to protect my breasts from cancer by…radiating them? Um, why does this just not make sense?
Some doctors will assure you the radiation used for a mammogram is ‘as small as that used for a dental X-ray.” Ok…but for those X-rays (which, by the way, I also refuse), the dentist runs out of the room to do them. And puts a lead bib over you to protect your chest. So…hmm.
Sure, you DO need to check your breasts for lumps and bumps. And you can do that manually, but hey, we’re only human. So how can we get deep in there to see if there’s anything that needs looking at, without nuking our boobs? There is indeed a way, and it’s called thermography.
A better alternative?
Thermographic breast screening is brilliantly simple. It measures the radiation of infrared heat from your body and translates this information into anatomical images. Your normal blood circulation is under the control of your autonomic nervous system, which governs your body functions. Thermography uses no mechanical pressure or ionizing radiation, and can detect signs of breast cancer years earlier than either mammography or a physical exam.
Mammography cannot detect a tumor until after it has been growing for years and reaches a certain size. Thermography is able to detect the possibility of breast cancer much earlier, because it can image the early stages of angiogenesis (the formation of a direct supply of blood to cancer cells, which is a necessary step before they can grow into tumors of size).
But the biggest news here is that mammograms don’t actually reduce breast cancer mortality. At all. And those tiny lumps mammograms find? They could be nothing significant, and yet millions of women undergo cancer treatment for them anyway.
According to the American Cancer Society, death rates from breast cancer have been falling since around 1989, and this is partly attributed to earlier detection as a result of breast cancer screening.
However, Harvard researcher Richard Wilson and his colleagues noted that there is increasing concern that mammography may lead to overdiagnosis by “identifying small, indolent or regressive tumors that would not otherwise become clinically apparent,” which means many women may receive treatment they do not necessarily need, as I mentioned above.
Although clinical trials have shown mammography is effective for early breast cancer diagnosis, Wilson and colleagues note that most of these trials are decades old. “There are concerns that the benefits and harms may have changed as treatments improved and screening was applied in general practice,” they said.
The team found that there has been a 10% rise in breast cancer screening, which was associated with a 16% increase in breast cancer diagnosis. However, no reduction was found in the rate of breast cancer deaths, and more importantly the 10% increase in breast cancer screening was linked to a 25% rise in incidence of very small breast cancers – defined as the presence of tumors 2 cm or less. These tiny tumours often self-resolve and don’t need treatment. However, the increase in breast cancer screening was not associated with a reduction in incidence of larger breast cancers – it was actually linked to a 7% increase!
So the bottom line? Check your breasts by all means for lumps and bumps – you can see how to do it below. But when it comes to mammograms? I’ll be passing on that, and asking for thermography instead. What you do is your own choice, of course.
Do you have any of your own tips for better breast health? Let us know in the comments, below!