You might be surprised to know that 50% of women, or as high as 60% of women, of menstruating age will have to deal with fibrocystic breast condition at some point. As the term suggests, the emphasis here is on a condition involving fibrous and cystic breasts. Fibro-adenoma is a very firm, rubbery substance, while cysts are fluid-filled sacs. Both react to hormonal changes, thus effective treatment of fibrocystic condition should involve attending to and balancing hormones.
The symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition may include: swelling, tingling, thickening, lumps, pain (including a sharp pain or “burning sensation”), tenderness and itching. If you suspect that you have this condition, I highly recommend that you begin taking yearly thermography images and follow up with an ultrasound. Mammography is not an appropriate screening test for those of you with dense breasts; as it is not effective at detecting tumors in high density breast tissue.
Ultrasound testing is the most appropriate for diagnosis of fibrocystic condition while it can differentiate between fluid-filled cysts and dense mass. It can also pick up lesions that are not palpable. Ultrasound is safe for pregnant women, as well as those with breast implants. The disadvantage of ultrasound test, is that it doesn’t image deep inside the tissue, it may not distinguish between surrounding normal and abnormal tissue, it will not pick up micro-calcifications (only a mammogram will do that) and it is operator dependent, meaning that mistakes can be made with poorly trained technicians.
I highly recommend using thermography for risk assessment, but also as a treatment monitoring of fibrocystic breasts. In many cases simply using Indole-3-Carbinol, a supplement made from cruciferous vegetables that you can buy over-the-counter can lead to excellent results. With thermography, we are able to identify the problem and then assess the effectiveness of treatment within a few months.
As some of you may already have had the painful experience of learning, fibrocystic breasts are typically treated by clinical needle aspiration. This may alleviate some of the immediate discomfort, but the technique is quite invasive and, most importantly, the milieu in which fibrocystic breasts thrived remains the same. That is, the underlying cause of cysts and nodules in that breast has not been addressed. Very often, fluid will come back and usually even more cysts will emerge after draining the original ones. You have removed the symptom by draining it but did not remove the cause, thus the body always trying to keep equilibrium of various states will continue to create more cysts and fill them with fluid.
Of course, a long-term solution to this would have to address the cause of this imbalance such as: estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency, elevated prolactin levels, insulin resistance, thyroid dysfunction, iodine deficiency and environmental, dietary and metabolic toxins. Taken together, these variables––and the relations between them––give us a set of causes that are certainly not going to be treated by draining one or two cysts.
A long-term solution to fibrocystic condition has to start with avoidance of coffee, tea, all caffeinated drinks, chocolate and soft drinks. Anything that contains caffeine will exacerbate fibrocystic breast. I’ve treated many women with fibrocystic breast and I have to say that if you just give up on caffeine alone, 50% of your symptoms will disappear over a period of time. Correct hormone imbalance by taking the measures I suggest in a more detailed article on Fibrocystic Breast Condition, especially making sure that an Anti-Estrogenic Diet becomes part of your everyday life. I also suggest that women supplement with iodine, vitamin A, Vitamin B6, C, E and D if they have fibrocystic issues. If you are taking supplements, a word of advice, you want to make sure you are taking quality vitamins from natural, rather than synthetic sources.
I also want to single out Magnesium as a hugely underrated mineral, and you should be taking this if you have fibrocystic breast. Almost anyone can use a little bit of magnesium because most of us don’t have enough. Supplement with Zinc, which is a prerequisite for proper thyroid function. Agnus-Castus (the common name is Vitex) is also a great botanical that helps your own system regulate your estrogen and helps with production of your own progesterone. Primrose-Oil and Castor Oil packs I suggest in cases where breasts become very painful.
Finally, from a holistic perspective dealing with fibrocystic breasts should also include; balancing hormones, keeping one’s immune system in top form, sleeping well, managing stress, getting exercise and maintaining a positive frame of mind.