Breast lumps are always worrying, especially because the awareness of breast cancers so high. Although many lumps are not malignant, as is the case with you, it’s quite natural to feel worried. Let me explain my experience with patients who have this type of problem.
The breasts consist of soft, fatty tissue, fibrous tissue and numerous ducts, which join together to form the main tubes that open into the nipples. While you are breast- feeding milk produced by the fatty breast tissue collects in these ducts and is sucked out through the nipples by the baby. Lumps, both benign and malignant, are formed by division of the cells in either the granular milk-producing tissue or the tissue that lines the ducts. The firm, fibrous tissue within the breast can also grow and feel lumpy.
One of the common causes of benign breast lumps is dehydration – not drinking enough water – and/or drinking too much coffee. How coffee causes the lumps is not exactly known. Many of my patients have found that giving up coffee and drinking more water results in a great improvement, with less swelling before their periods and no pain or tenderness.
Another common cause is infection. Babies, especially when they are teething, bite the nipples, causing injury to the tissue. Any infection -from the baby’s mouth or from the surrounding area of the breast – goes in through the injured skin. Once the bacteria enter the sweet milky duct, they multiply rapidly. The original infection leads to an inflammation of the breast called mastitis, which can be very painful. Pus, which is made up of dead cells, may appear from the nipples, as the body’s white cells – the infection fighters – notice the situation and attack. Large abscesses are often formed and when these heal scar tissue is created, which is also lumpy.
Benign breast lumps tend to hurt more when the breasts swell before a period. The swelling causes irritation in the nerve endings as they are stretched. Breast tissue swells in response to the production of prolactin, the milk-producing hormone that comes from the pituitary gland. As the level of prolactin rises, the breasts swell in readiness to produce milk at the same time ovulation stops. That is why breast-feeding mothers tend to be infertile nature doesn’t want another pregnancy while the mother is nursing. It is worth getting the prolactin levels in the blood checked to see if they are abnormally high and whether that is causing the discomfort in your breasts.
The thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by the pituitary gland. Improving the blood flow to the pituitary through neck massage helps to stimulate its functioning and that could help resolve some of your thyroid problems.
Here is my advice for benign breast lumps:
- Avoid coffee, excess salt and sugar, spicy food, pickles and preserved foods as they cause dehydration.
- Drink l.5 to 2litres of still, filtered water daily between meals.
- Massage the neck and shoulders twice a week this will improve the blood flow to the pituitary gland, which controls the thyroid and other hormonal glands in the body, including the breasts.
Massaging the neck and shoulders helps many women patients of mine, especially before a period. It aids the relief of breast tenderness, which is one of the cardinal symptoms of PMS, and also helps to make lumps softer and less painful.
- Massage the breasts, particularly the lumps, with cocoa butter, using the thumb and fingers. Do this every day from mid-cycle until your period starts; repeat for four cycles.
- Practise yoga to help the circulation, particularly the cobra, boat swing semi bridge and child poses. You will find details in Therapeutic Yoga, the book I co-wrote with Jiwan Brar.
- Take one capsule of aloe vera twice a day for three months.
- Drink a glass of aniseed tea each morning for two weeks: boil one teaspoonful of aniseed seeds in a big tumbler full of water for ten minutes. Leave to cool, add manuka honey to taste, then drink.