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Entries in breast health (5)


Moving lymph

Lymph circulation is the waste management system of our bodies. It transports waste materials (toxins, dead bacteria and cells, cancer cells, dietary fats from our digestive system, interstitial fluid, etc.) out of our bodies. Lymph travels just under the skin through vessels. It is cleaned in the nodes and eventually returns to the whole blood in the circulatory system. Unlike blood, which has the heart to pump it, the lymph has no pump to keep it flowing. It is entirely dependent on external factors in order to operate optimally. Here are some ways to keep it moving:

  • pumping action of your gastrocs through walking or running
  • massage, particularly the light, directional, rhythmic lymph drainage massage
  • jumping, particulary on a rebounder or trampoline
  • skin brushing
  • hydrate
  • deep breathing
  • hot & cold treatment
  • stillingia tincture
  • Qi machine
It's terribly important not to restrict lymph flow with tight clothing, especially bras. If you wear a bra make sure it's well fitted and doesn't leave long-lasting grooves in your skin when you take it off.

Vitamin D may protect against cancer

A meta-study involving 5038 women aged 55 and older, as reported in Science News, found that higher levels of vitamin D were protective against breast cancer and indicate that a higher minimum recommendation may be warranted. While most women in the studies were white and while these studies don't necessarily prove cause and effect,

"Nonetheless, this paper reports the strongest association yet between serum vitamin D and reduction in risk of breast cancer," Garland said.

But not just breast cancer. In earlier research Cedric F. Garland, DrPH, adjunct professor in the UC San Diego Department of Family Medicine and Public Health found positive assoications between higher levels of vitamin D and reduced occurence of colon, breast, lung and bladder cancers, multiple myeloma and adult leukemia.

To reach 25(OH)D levels of 60 ng/ml, said Garland, would generally require dietary supplements of 4,000 to 6,000 international units (IU) per day, less with the addition of moderate daily sun exposure wearing very minimal clothing (approximately 10-15 minutes per day outdoors at noon). He said the success of oral supplementation should be determined using a blood test, preferably during winter months.

The article warns not to exceed 10,000 IU/day as serious adverse effects may occur.


Mammograms of questionable benefit.

The Harvard Medical School published this video as part of their blog describing the overuse and misuse of mammography. The blog states:

They [JAMA Insights article co-authors Keating and Pace*] further point out that the USPSTF [U.S. Preventive Services Task Force] reiterated its recommendation in 2016 and that the American Cancer Society joined the task force in 2015 in advocating less routine use of mammography and a more individualized approach to screening.


“One of the greatest harms is overdiagnosis, which can subject some women to harmful treatment without any benefit,” Pace said. “Additionally, high rates of false positives and unnecessary biopsies should be considered as likely outcomes of breast cancer screening.”

Personally, I use thermography. It, too, is criticized as producing too many false positives but it doesn't expose patients to radiation so they can be done frequently and checked against a baseline. Those false positives, in my mind, are Qi Stagnation or Blood Stasis and can be treated with massage and acupuncture.

It baffles me that they end by saying that doctors know best. What physician has the time to spend counseling a patient or has the skill to do it?


*Nancy Keating is a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Lydia Pace is HMS assistant professor of medicine and an internist at Brigham and Women’s



Self breast massage

The importance of breast massage can not be overstated. It is an essential part of self care in maintaining health and well being, it is important in preventing cysts, clogged lymph and congested tissues that could lead to disease. Self breast massage is important for pregnant and lactating women for maintaining health and preventing or treating mastitis. [x] Breast massage has also been shown to help in treating breast cancer. [v]

Massaging the breasts as well as the areas around the armpits and along the bra line is particularly important for women who wear bras, especially underwire bras. Bras restrict the flow of blood, lymph and Qi through the chest, causing stagnation. Over time, this may result in fibrosis, lumps, pain or other signs or symptoms of undernourished tissues.


Massage your breasts and the tissue near your armpits daily. It can take the place of your monthly breast exam because you are constantly monitoring your tissues. Technique is not as important as just getting movement in the tissues. You can do circles with your fingers or an up-and-down movement. Start more superficial and then get deeper and check for lumps of any kind. You may find clogged lymph nodes or congested tissues; some women find small bits they describe as "sandy" or "gritty". Rub them for several minutes each day. If they don't reduce in size, or resolve, over the course of the month, then see your primary care provider. Give a quick massage to the bra line each time you take off your bra. Never sleep with a bra on; your tissues need time to recover and it is essential for the tissues to have time each day having free flow of blood, lymph & Qi.[y] 

If you skin brush, make sure to give attention to the bra line area and always brush your pits and breasts. Skin brushing does not take the place of breast massage, however. This YouTube video (with a long intro) has good instruction for a thorough breast massage.


Thermography breast cancer screening

Mammograms are dangerous; they subject patients to radiation in tissues that are susceptible to cancers and they are notoriously difficult to read--practitioners will diagnose the same mammogram differently or one practitioner will give a single picture different diagnoses on separate readings. They hurt and they have a relatively higher number of false positives.

A review of seven similar studies last year concluded that 30 percent of women who get a diagnosis of breast cancer through mammography screening represent "over-diagnosis and over-treatment." [1]

Thermography is a superior alternative, in my opinion. Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) reads the heat emanating from the body. Tumours and pathological tissues radiate more heat than normal tissues. This allows for earlier detection than both manual exams (whether self employed or from a doc) and mammograms. It does not subject patients to harmful radiation and it doesn't hurt. Usually a woman has two initial thermograms done, several months apart, in order to establish a baseline. This makes it much easier to detect abnormal changes from her individual pattern of heat distribution.

Thermography's accuracy and reliability is remarkable, too. In the 1970s and 1980s, a great deal of research was conducted on thermography. In 1981, Michel Gautherie, Ph.D., and his colleagues reported on a 10-year study, which found that an abnormal thermogram was 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than having a history of breast cancer in your family.[2] 

Thermography detects pathological changes in tissue well before cancer appears so that patients can initiate lifestyle changes and less invasive treatments. It is particularly useful for women with fibrotic or dense breast tissue who experience higher rates of mammogram errors. And, actually, it's not just for breasts. Abdominal/pelvic scans are available as well as more costly and time-consuming whole-body scans.

The most surprising part?? It's FDA approved and "recognized as a viable diagnostic tool since 1987 by the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs, the ACA Council on Diagnostic Imaging, the Congress of NeuroSurgeons in 1988 and in 1990 by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation." [3]

So how is it that so many people have never heard of thermography? Learn more about it at Picture My Health.