The health of a woman's breasts is a personal issue, and it's an aspect of health that every woman regards with great importance. For many women, breast health is a top priority.
If you're a woman, you know there can be hidden – and sometimes confusing – challenges to keeping your breasts healthy, whether it's related to your diet, your lifestyle, or the environment.
And depending upon your particular life stage – your early adult years, your child-bearing years, or your menopausal and post-menopausal years – those challenges can and do change.
However, your goal is the same as that of any woman, of any age: to enjoy optimal breast health throughout your entire life.
First, let's talk briefly about one of the most important aspects that can influence breast health…
What You May Not Know About Estrogen
The most natural place to start any discussion about breast health is with estrogen, as this hormone plays a key role – at all ages.
Estrogen has many beneficial aspects. It's essential for your bone growth. It promotes digestive functions and healthy blood clotting. It allows you to give birth. No doubt, the female body needs estrogen.
However, as you go through life it is important to maintain the proper balance of estrogen to support your breast health.
Many women think of estrogen as a single hormone, but it's actually three separate hormones and they each play a different role in the health of your breasts.
The three forms are:
- Estrone (E1)
- Estradiol (E2)
- Estriol (E3)
Ideally, you want a healthy balance between the three, and as little as possible of E2. Each form of estrogen is produced by your ovaries, adrenals, and fat during your premenopausal years.
During menopause, your estrogen production fluctuates. After menopause, it drops sharply but doesn't completely stop.
Estriol (E3) is the estrogen that is most abundant in your body before you enter menopause. It's considered a "weak" estrogen, but it's the form that's most valuable. E3 offers protective support for your breast tissue.
If you are menopausal or postmenopausal, your body is making less of this type of estrogen.
Talking with your holistic health care provider about safe bioidentical hormone replacement might be a smart move, depending upon your personal situation.
Estrone (E1) and Estradiol (E2) are the two "stronger" estrogens that are usually prescribed in traditional hormone replacement therapy for women beyond menopause.
A Simplified View of the Complex World of Estrogen Receptors
Within your breast tissue, you have what's known as estrogen receptors. These are proteins that are found in your cell membranes to which estrogen molecules – or substances acting as estrogen – can attach.
It's a complex system, but in very simple terms, the way estrogen or another substance attaches to your estrogen receptors is like a pegboard with pegs.
Once a receptor is "filled," it's taken, and it's not available to other molecules of estrogen or substances.
Any substance that binds to the estrogen receptors in your breasts can be stored in your breast tissue and can affect your breast health.
You'll soon see how this system offers a very unique opportunity for supporting your breast health. For now, just realize that you do have at least some control over which substances take up "residence" in your estrogen receptors.
Breast Support Isn't Just For Post-Menopausal Women… Far From It!
Before we go any further, I need to make one important point…
Don't be misled into thinking that just because post-menopausal women's bodies may produce less "good" E3 or estriol estrogen, they're the only ones who might benefit from breast health support.
Rather, research provides convincing evidence that the under-50 group and the 25 to 39 year old group might benefit from breast health support, too.
Let's take a look at some practical lifestyle changes that you can make, starting today, to support the health of your breasts…
8 Practical Lifestyle Changes That Can Enhance Your Breast Health
Research shows these simple steps can help promote healthy breasts:
- Get moving.
Exercise is important. And so are simple, short but frequent periods of movement.
It improves breathing, helping to bring oxygen to your tissues, and promotes lymphatic flow to help cleanse breast tissue.
Regular exercise is especially valuable in that it helps promote healthy insulin levels and the circulation of immune cells in your blood.
And exercise helps you meet your desired weight goals. Body fat produces estrogen, so maintaining a healthy body weight goes hand-in-hand with supporting your breast health. Examine your lifestyle and look for ways to increase your activity level, even if you work at a desk.
- Optimize your sunlight exposure – and your vitamin D levels.
Exercising outdoors is ideal as it provides healthy sun exposure for a natural dose of vitamin D.
Sufficient vitamin D may be one of the most important factors for supporting your breast health.* The importance of vitamin D in maintaining overall health and well-being has been extensively researched.
Be sure to test your blood levels, and if they are low, increase your sunlight exposure or add a vitamin D supplement to your daily regimen.
- Consider wearing a bra for shorter periods of time.
A total of 4,730 women were interviewed in five major U.S. cities between 1991 and 1993 by the husband and wife authors of Dressed to Kill, Soma Grismaijer and Sidney Ross Singer.
Among the women interviewed, they found that those who wore bras either not at all or for the least amount of time each day (and not at night) experienced the highest levels of breast health.
Bras are designed to constrict and prevent free movement of the breasts. As you'll soon see, this may not be the healthiest environment for breasts for extended periods of time.
In addition to disrupting the normal healthy lymphatic flow in your breast tissue, wearing a bra might also affect the temperature of your breasts. Breasts, which are natural appendages to the body, flourish in slightly cooler temperatures than the average 98.6 F body temperature.
For similar reasons, other research has suggested that bras without foam or thick padding and without underwires might also be healthier for your breasts.
- Read personal care product labels carefully.
Recent research shows that parabens found in personal care products, such as body lotions, shampoos, cosmetics, and especially underarm antiperspirants, can "mimic" estrogen and be absorbed into your breast tissue.
These studies show that parabens can affect your body much like the estrogens leading to diminished muscle mass, extra fat storage, and less-than-optimal breast health.
Read all labels and avoid any "paraben"- containing ingredient, including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
I also recommend you avoid aluminum in antiperspirants, as aluminum salts can also mimic estrogen much the same way as parabens.
"Crystal" deodorant stones often contain an aluminum compound called "alum" even if they claim to be "aluminum-free." Potassium alum or ammonium alum are natural mineral salts that are too large to be absorbed by your skin, so they may be a healthier option.
And of course, soap and water and natural sunlight are effective and non-toxic underarm deodorizing options as well.
- Avoid common household chemicals and plastics.
Research shows that bisphenol-A, or BPA, as well as its common replacement, BPS, are both similar in estrogenic activity to estradiol, the most potent form of estrogen.
BPA and BPS are widely used in plastic water bottles and milk jugs, the lining of canned foods and soda cans, and plastic microwavable plates and utensils.
A chemical used to make plastics more flexible is phthalates. Found in food packaging, detergents, cosmetics, vinyl shower curtains, and vinyl floors, it's another chemical that's best avoided whenever possible.
- Avoid pesticides and herbicides inside your house, on your lawn or your garden.
Many of the chemicals in pesticide and weedkillers resemble or act very similar to estrogen, just like plastics mentioned in the last section.
These "xenoestrogens" enter your breast tissue and bind to your estrogen receptors. And over your lifetime, they continue to build.
One specific group of chemicals, organochlorines, include banned yet prevalent in imported produce, DDT and DDE, which was shown in a leading journal article to be retained in breast tissue.
Another very popular weedkiller in both commercial and residential use today is the broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup.
Always read labels before using any products in your yard, garden, or home.
And if you hire a pest-control or a lawn care company, insist on knowing in advance what's in the products they plan to use on your property!
- Get plenty of sleep in a completely dark room.
Melatonin, a hormone that is produced by your brain during periods of darkness, is very important for breast and immune health. It's a potent antioxidant and it decreases the amount of estrogen that your body produces.
Any amount of light in your bedroom – even from an electric clock or computer – can shut down or reduce your body's melatonin production.
When you sleep is equally important. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the ideal hours for sleep – and for optimal melatonin production – are between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
If you go to bed by 10:00, your natural levels of melatonin are likely to be higher. Melatonin hormone levels spike between midnight and 1 a.m.
When you routinely go to bed after 10 p.m., you may miss some of the benefits that melatonin offers for breast health.
- Manage your stress.
Taking care of your emotional health is just as critical for the health of your breasts as tending to your physical health.
Dr. Christine Northrup, a woman's health specialist and New York Times best-selling author, offers some valuable tips for controlling stress and nurturing your inner self:
- Start your day with a positive affirmation.
- Meditate for at least 3 to 12 minutes each day to calm and soothe your mind.
- Breathe through your nose to activate your parasympathetic "rest-and-restore" nervous system.
- Relax the back of your throat and release any builtup tension.
- Practice unconditonal self-love and acceptance. While looking in a mirror each day, tell yourself, "I love you."
- Cultivate an active social life with positive people that you enjoy being around.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Before falling asleep at night, write down 5 things you feel grateful for in your life.
My favorite technique for managing stress is EFT – or the Emotional Freedom Technique. It's easy to learn and yields profound results for many people, including deep feelings of self acceptance, sometimes in only minutes. You'll find detailed instructions on my website for learning EFT.
Nature's Way to Health – Lend a Helping Hand with
Gentle Lymphatic Breast Massage
Your lymphatic system is an important part of your immune system. It helps move fluids, fatty acids and other nutrients, as well as wastes and toxins in and out of your tissues.
In essence, it is a type of "circulatory system."
Your breast tissue, extending into your armpits, contains many lymph nodes that drain into this vast system.
One unique feature about your lymph system is this: It has no pump, unlike your "other" circulatory system. The movement of lymph in your body depends upon your frequent and free movement.
For your breasts, every unrestricted movement or bounce during normal activities gently messages and helps stimulate lymphatic flow.
As I've already pointed out, when you wear a tight or constricting bra or garment, you can potentially affect the healthy, normal lymphatic flow in your breast tissue.
A simple, yet powerful way you can support the health of your breasts is with lymphatic massage. Simple to perform, you can do it yourself or locate a licensed therapist who specializes in lymphatic massage.
Here are the simple steps for self-lymphatic breast massage that you can do in the privacy of your own home:
- If you're wearing a bra, remove it.
- Using the flat palm of your hands, massage each breast gently in a circular motion.
- Rotate and massage both breasts in the opposite direction.
- Do this at least once daily for 3 to 5 minutes, or for 30 seconds several times a day.
Now that we've explored the environmental and physical things you can do to support your breast health, let's move on to food. It's a hot topic…
7 Dietary Changes That Can Promote Your Breast Health
Making certain changes in your everyday eating patterns can go a long way towards providing your breasts with optimal support.
- Eat more raw, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits.
Certain fruits and vegetables contain three important antioxidants for breast health: lutein, lycopene, and carotenoids.*
Good food sources include fresh berries, yams, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, squash, cherries, cranberries, and watermelon.
Vegetables like collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, turnips and cauliflower contain a breast health-supporting nutrient called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) or its metabolite DIM.
- Always choose organic produce and raw, hormone-free dairy whenever possible.
I briefly mentioned the estrogen-mimicking effects of certain pesticides and herbicides.
They are difficult to wash off and once consumed, they can stay locked up in body fat. Choose organically grown fruits and vegetables to avoid them! When purchasing dairy products, choose raw if available, and avoid products containing the artificial growth hormone rBGH.
- Avoid sugar, especially fructose.
Fructose, the natural sugar in fruit, can negatively affect your health, including your breast health, when consumed in excess.
Avoid fruit juice and sweetened beverages (especially artificially sweetened drinks) and read labels to avoid hidden sugars in packaged and processed foods.
- Eat fermented soy – or no soy at all.
There's much confusion about soy and breast health. Let me put it straight: avoid soy unless it is fermented.
Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. Some studies have shown that soy may promote estrogenic activity, which is less-than-desirable for breast health.
When soy is fermented as in organic natto, miso, and tempeh, the soy phytoestrogens may be transformed into safer compounds.
- Drink organic healthy tea.
All types of tea – green, white, and black – contain polyphenols, which are naturally-occurring antioxidants.
Levels of one especially potent polyphenol known as EGCG are highest in green tea. Animal studies have shown its value for supporting cellular integrity.*
But don't drink your tea caffeine-free. Its caffeine content, while much less than coffee, appears to be part of its health-promoting benefits.
- Get plenty of high-quality omega-3 fats.
Omega-3-rich foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, krill and fatty fish are great for supporting breast health. They help promote a normal inflammatory response and support healthy cell development.*
I especially recommend a high-quality animal source such as krill oil.
- Spice your food generously with turmeric, or consider a curcumin supplement.
Deep-orange turmeric, a relative of ginger, has been used for thousands of years in many Indian dishes. It's a potent antioxidant and helps promote a normal inflammatory response.*
And One Final Way to Help Support Your Breast Health…
As I hinted earlier, my team and I have created an additional way to help you support the health of your breasts.
This method of support:
- Is designed to support healthy, normal breast tissue.*
- Is formulated to provide important nutrients that may help fight oxidative stress we encounter on a daily basis*
- Contains carefully selected ingredients that may help promote healthy hormonal balance*
I'm excited to introduce you to my new Breast Health Formula.* I feel confident that it's a product that many women are eagerly waiting for and will embrace...
And it's one that's sure to help bring peace of mind to women everywhere who want to do all they can to support the health of their breasts.
Let me tell you a little about it…
Breast Health Formula*… For Women of All Ages
to Support the Health of Their Breasts*
Available only at Mercola.com, my Breast Health Formula* contains a proprietary blend of eight active ingredients:
- DIM (Di-Indoylmethane) – The valuable converted I3C compound found in cruciferous vegetables
- Lycopene – A potent antioxidant in fruits and vegetables, found largely in tomatoes and watermelon. Accumulates in breast tissue and helps protect against oxidative stress and estrogenic activity*
- HMRlignan™ – A plant lignan that's converted by intestinal flora into enterolactone, a type of phytoestrogen that may help maintain a healthy balance of estrogen*
- Cranberry Juice Concentrate – Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, cranberries are high in polyphenols*
- Vitamin D – Supports breast and immune health *
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), B6, and B12 – Offers immune system support and antioxidant protection against free radicals*
For several reasons, this formula is not your run-of-the-mill breast support supplement…*
A Discovery for Women: HMRlignan™
HMRlignan™ is a naturally occurring plant lignan from the Norway spruce. And it's a major discovery for women's breast health…*
Lignans are a special class of plant compound – phytonutrients – that are a normal part of a healthy diet. While they are found in many foods in small amounts, they're most abundant in sesame seeds, flaxseed, berries, fruits, vegetables and unrefined grain products.
The "good" bacteria in your intestines convert plant lignans into "human" lignans, mainly enterolactone, that have a weak estrogen-like activity.
Here's how they can be helpful for women's breast health*…
- If your natural estrogen levels are high, the weaker lignan "estrogens" may help reduce total estrogen activity by binding some of your estrogen receptor sites.*
- If your natural estrogen levels are low, these lignan estrogens can supplement your estrogen levels, promoting a more optimal balance.*
Although lignans can be found in foods, most people don't get enough in their everyday diet – the average American's intake is less than 1 mg per day.
To raise enterolactone to beneficial levels, you need to consume between 50 and 100 mg of lignans per day. That's 3 to 4 tablespoons of unrefined ground flaxseed or just ONE Breast Health Formula* capsule!
Flaxseed, likely the richest food source of lignans, is popular with many health-conscious individuals. However, ground flaxseeds turn rancid rapidly, and can generate oxygen-robbing cyanide in your stomach. So if you chose to use flax seeds please never use pre-ground ones, always buy organic whole seeds and grind them right before you use them.
The One Ingredient You'll Find in My Breast Health Formula*
That You Probably Won't Find in Others…
The super carotenoid antioxidant that gives certain fruits and vegetables their rosy red color is known as lycopene.
Tomatoes are one of the richest sources, and you can also find generous amounts of lycopene in rose-colored fruits like watermelon, pink guavas, pink grapefruit and apricots.
We included lycopene in Breast Health Formula* because it accumulates in fatty tissue, and may help support breast health.*
You probably won't find lycopene in other breast health support formulas, but I considered it valuable enough to add.*
I3C and DIM – A Remarkable Substance to Help Promote Estrogen Balance*
Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower, the "cruciferous" vegetables, contain a very unique breast health-supporting nutrient called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) or its metabolite DIM.*
When given the choice between I3C and DIM in a supplement, I always recommend the DIM form.
DIM is a far safer, more stable form of I3C.
DIM is especially important for supporting breast health for two reasons:
- It may help promote the conversion of less healthy estrogens into healthy ones.*
- And it may help block estrogen-mimicking substances from attaching to your estrogen receptors.*
Particularly in postmenopausal women, a high consumption of cruciferous vegetables has been shown to be associated with a higher degree of breast health.*
My Breast Health Formula* – The Right Support at the Right Time.
Are You Ready?
Now is the perfect time to start giving your breasts the healthy support that any women's breasts might need.*
You place a high value on your breast health. You care about your food choices. You try to get the right kinds of exercise. You're aware of the some of the breast health "landmines" out there and you avoid them. I applaud you for taking those important steps.
But there is more you can do. And I hope, after reading this, you have a better understanding of some of the "extra" measures you can take to help promote the health of your breasts.*
Breast Health Formula* is one of those measures, and I believe it's an important one.
In Breast Health Formula,* you'll find my unique combination of ingredients to help support your healthy breasts: Lycopene, DIM, HMRlignan™, Vitamin D, Cranberry Juice Concentrate, and the B vitamins 2, 6, and 12.
Why not give Breast Health Formula* a try today? Your investment per day is only 83 cents – far less than a cup of coffee and it's something that can help support your health.*
Dr. Mercola’s Breast Health Formula has been discontinued to offer an enhanced solution for total women’s health.
Lignans with Lycopene is an even better way to help you maintain your hormonal health. This special hormonal balance supplement is clinically proven to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes during perimenopause and menopause and provides nutrients to help protect your breasts against normal everyday stressors.
With this new, patent-pending formula, you may experience fewer and less severe hot flashes, gain relief from other unsettling symptoms such as day and night sweats, upset emotions, mood swings and poor sleep, and provide extra protection to your breasts and other estrogen-related organs.* Try it today!
Discover more about Lignans with Lycopene