BREAST HEALTH a proactive & preventative approach
By Gina M. Bello, Certified Holistic Health Therapist & Instructor
I am a woman, a consumer of products and reader of information. My view is that in the end, regardless of titles and what we think we know, isn't that what we all are - just consumers and users of products and information? My personal interest in breast health comes at a time now when I'm in my mid-forties, when I've been asked by my family doctor (since turning 40) to have yearly screening mammograms for breast cancer. I am not an expert on breast health, but I am a pro-active woman.
Media reports for years have been instructing women to take a preventative and proactive approach to breast health by routinely giving themselves "breast selfexams". Easy enough, so I've been doing that for a number of years now. I've also made it a point to read as much as I can, and to actively research information about breast health, breast cancer, preventative therapies and treatment protocols.
Having had only one mammogram since turning 40, I have to say that was enough for me – no thanks, I'll pass on this yearly ritual. That single experience and the knowledge of increased health risk from actually having yearly mammograms, has urged me to put off yearly screening and so I've actively been seeking safe, non-invasive and alternative screening methods.
The urgency comes as a result of seeing an alarming number of women - friends, family, and clients receive a diagnosis of breast cancer. Today we are hearing of more women at a much younger age than was once considered to be the average age (40-74), to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Interestingly the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care has released updated guidelines for breast cancer screening. After years of media bombardment urging women to give themselves breast self-exams, now they are advising to not routinely perform breast self-exams...what? Why? They do say however, these new guidelines do not apply to women with a higher-than-average risk. Often after routine breast self- exams, women find benign lumps. This sets them on a roller coaster ride of grief and anxiety. It looks like this; woman finds lump, visits her family doctor, receives more mammograms, possibly ultrasounds, and biopsies which contribute to her increased anxiety. So, the new recommendations are that women 1) ensure they are not at higher than average risk 2) be aware of their breasts – what feels normal vs. abnormal to them and 3) begin yearly mammograms at age 50. At age 50? So now I am just more confused.
Some interesting facts: poor lifestyle, diet, high toxicity and high stress levels contribute to ill health and cancer. Some women just naturally have more dense and lumpy tissue and have what is known as fibrocystic breasts. Women with higher risk of breast cancer (those with a family history of breast cancers, specifically on their paternal side), have been found to be genetically linked by their father. Hormonal changes and imbalances may occur as we age and if our diet is laden with estrogen-dominant foods (meat, poultry injected with hormones, soya products) in excess women become more susceptible to breast cancer.
On average 80% of breast lumps are benign. Although I mainly agree with the new guidelines, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation believes there's a problem.