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Promoting Long Term Breast Health

Did you know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
It is estimated that 230,000 women and 2,200 men in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Approximately 38,000 women and 500 men will die of breast cancer in 2013. The major risk factor for this disease, from a western medical standpoint include; aging, family history and being a women. Based on an Oriental Medicine perspective there is a higher incidence of breast cancer in women who have had other diseases (Premenstrual Breast Distension, Fibrocystic Breasts, Fibroadenomas, Mastitis and Papillomas).
Signs of breast cancer disease include: 1) a lump or thickening in the breasts or arm pit, 2) a change in the size or shape of the breast, 3) bloody, brown or green discharge from the nipple, 4) change in the color or texture of the skin or areola.  Detection can be made by palpation, mammography, needle aspiration or biopsy. Western treatments include; lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy. The earlier breast cancer is detected and treated the better the chance of complete recovery.
For most women breast disease is a frightening topic. The loss or disfigurement of the breast can affect many aspects of a woman’s life. As an Oriental Medicine practitioner I feel it is essential for women to try to prevent serious disease from arising in the first place. Minor breast disorders should not be taken lightly or left untreated. The presence of breast tenderness, before a period, is a symptom of an imbalance, which can and should be improved.  Treating these disorders early a women can help avoid a serious complication in the future. In Oriental Medicine, breast tumors and other diseases such as; endometriosis, uterine fibroids and dysfunctional uterine bleeding are caused by imbalances of and blood stagnation. If the blood transforms to a severe state of stagnation a serious disease is born.
Oriental Medicine, based on its vision of balance (body, mind and soul), offers remedial treatment through Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine for all breast disease. It also offers numerous self-help techniques (nutrition, massage and relaxation) for the prevention of breast disease. Some suggestions taken from Honara Lee Wolfe’s book on Better Breast Health are:
 Avoid over eating, this stagnates the stomach. The stomach channel, in Oriental Medicine, irrigates the breast tissue. Stagnation in any form is bad for the breast.
 Try to avoid becoming overweight. There is a known relationship between body fat, fat consumption and breast cancer.
 Avoid caffeine. Caffeine over stimulates the liver that overacts on the stomach. Green tea is far more beneficial to the body (anti-oxidant) with it’s lower concentration of caffeine.
Eat a diet high in fiber with many fresh lightly cooked vegetables. Avoid spicy/greasy foods these also stagnate the stomach.
When you use oil use olive oil. Studies show it to be a better option for breast health.
Stress, when not released is an enemy of breast health. Try to let go of what you can not change and work at changing what you can.
Go for a walk. Regular exercise will increase circulation and decrease blood stagnation, a major cause of many diseases including breast cancer.
Breast massage is helpful in keeping blood circulating. Breast self-examination is great for early detection. The technique can be learned from the American Cancer Society.
Finally don’t beat yourself up if and when you do get an illness or disease. Everyone’s body will develop disease at some point in life. Do as much as you can to stay healthy for as long as you can in your life. Be well and stay happy.
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, remember acupuncture can help a great deal in relieving the side effects from treatment. We are proud to be affiliated with Cancer Treatment Centers of America in helping patients manage their cancer treatments. Call us we can help.

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