Research has shown that up to 90% of cancers including breast cancer are from lifestyle and environmental factors, which leaves 10% relating to genetic predisposition. Our genetics do not determine our destiny. Even if we have a genetic predisposition or carry a gene that gives us a higher risk for certain cancers or disease, we have the power to change lifestyle habits and environments so those genes are not expressed. One way to implement this lifestyle habit is through detoxification practices. While many may have heard of detoxing the colon, liver, kidneys or even a whole-body detox, we rarely hear about detoxing the breasts. Below are five tips that focus on lymphatic movement to help with breast detoxification.
Breast Tissue and Lymphatic System
Breast tissue is comprised of many intricate parts, including adipose tissue, lymph nodes and lymph. The lymph is a colorless fluid that’s present just under the skin’s surface; it flows through the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system, has many functions. These include protecting the body from illness-causing invaders; removing cellular waste; and filtering and carrying away bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and other toxic substances.The breasts are filled with lymphatic pathways that are dependent on healthy circulation. When lymph gets “clogged,” the breast tissue becomes congested, and the lymph flow can become stagnate. This is one way toxic substances like chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and xenoestrogens can store up in the breast tissue, creating toxicity. In addition, breast tissue that is not properly detoxified can eventually form cysts known as fibrocystic breasts and can cause premalignant and malignant cells to develop.Because the lymphatic system does not have a pump like our cardiovascular system, it depends on our movement to keep it circulation and flowing properly.
Five Tips for Breast Detoxification
- Rebounding. Jumping on a mini trampoline is one of the best ways to circulate healthy lymph flow and help promote detoxification. Try rebounding 5-10 minutes twice daily for optimal results. Light bouncing is best. We can also take a walk outside for 15-20 minutes or more. Make sure to move the arms when walking to facilitate upper body lymphatic flow.
- Ditch antiperspirants. It’s so important for breast health. The use of antiperspirants prevents sweating, which is a very important way to release some of the toxins that we are exposed to daily from our personal care products. Preventing the sweating process prevents the breast tissue from draining properly into the axillary nodes. It can create a toxic buildup. Using a healthy, all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant is a great start to encourage proper lymph flow. Just like a food label, the deodorant we choose should have a short list of ingredients. Look for brands with baking soda or charcoal. These ingredients will neutralize the bacteria that causes body odor but still allow the sweating process that is necessary for detoxification.
- Castor oil packs. In addition to being used for liver detoxification, castor oil packs can also aid in the detoxification of breast tissue. The oil is traditionally used to support the lymphatic, circulatory and immune systems. It has unique, immune-enhancing effects because of its ability to improve lymphatic flow. Castor oil packs are also great for sore, tender breasts and clogged lymph. This detoxification method can be done a couple times a month or as often as we feel is necessary. Consult a physician if currently dealing with a breast challenge about how often this should be performed. When choosing a castor oil, it’s best to purchase one that is organic, cold-pressed, hexane-free and stored in glass.
- Dry skin brushing.The skin is the largest organ. Since it is responsible for a quarter of the body’s detoxification, its ability to remove toxins via the lymph system is very important. Dry skin brushing also improves skin appearance due to the shedding of dead skin cells. What does this have to do with breast health? When lymphatic fluid begins to slow down or become stagnant, estrogens from the breast area cannot be removed and inflammation results. This can cause breast tenderness, and lumps in the breast or under the arms. Dry brushing is best done in the morning before showering. Always choose a natural bristle brush, apply light pressure when brushing and focus on areas where lymph nodes are concentrated, such as the upper outer portion of the breasts and the armpits.
- Go wireless. Stop wearing underwire bras and bras that are constricting. Underwire bras are very constricting to breast tissue and clog the lymph in this area. If breasts are tender or red, or shoulders have indentations when the bra is taken off, this is a sign that the bra is too restrictive, and the lymph is not circulating properly. In addition, electromagnetic devices in the environment—such as a cell phone—are attracted to metal. When wearing an underwire bra, the breasts act like magnets to EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies). Some research suggests that constant exposure to EMFs can cause molecular changes in our cells, possibly leading to cancer formation.
Try keeping a bra off as much as possible to let the breasts be free. Research has shown that women that wear bras all day/night or most of the day have the highest instances of breast cancer. Breasts were made to move around and bounce, which is also how the lymph moves. Constricting bras shut down this flow. When choosing a bra, try to have it wireless and fitted. One recommendation is Ruby Ribbon, which offers an alternative to traditional underwire bras that are supportive without the constriction. A personal stylist helps fit clients as well.
The addition of these simple self-care, detoxification methods can be a valuable step in keeping our breasts healthy for a lifetime. Empowering ourselves to take a proactive approach with our breast health can show future positive breast improvements with simple changes like a dry skin brushing routine or changing the type of bra we’re wearing.