Breast Cancer Awareness Month Special Issue
October is the month to bring up Breast Cancer Awareness. In order to promote early detection and have a good prevention plan from a TCM perspective, read more below!
According to CDC's data, Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States. Deaths from breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women. Each year in the United States, about 264,000 breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men. About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die yearly from breast cancer. Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than White women.
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are:
New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
Pulling in the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
Pain in any area of the breast.
Remember that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer. If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor immediately. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt. CDC offers different mammogram checking plans to support everyone can be helped. Consult your doctor or check through the CDC website.
Many factors throughout a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. Even if you can’t change aging and genetic factors, you can help lower your risk by changing your life style. CDC suggests the following ways:
Keep a healthy weight.
Choose not to drink alcohol or drink alcohol in moderation.
If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
Breastfeed your children, if possible.
If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs. Chinese Medicine is looking into prevention and maintaining homeostasis.
Let's have a deeper look
There are three main channels affecting breast health: the Liver, Stomach, and Spleen. These three channels run directly through the breasts and influence breast health from physical and mental-emotional aspects.
In pathological thinking, lumps will present if the channel runs through the breast with blockage. The Spleen and Stomach are in charge of digestion. If these two organs do not function well, extra dampness, phlegm, and heat pathogens will appear and become actual lumps in the breast. In TCM, the Liver is the organ that controls the free flow of Qi and is closely related with digestion (bile ducts) and emotions (anger and depression). Qi stagnation from mood swings can cause direct damage to our breasts. Once Qi stagnation is present, blood stagnation follows. PMS and menopause symptoms show up. Thus, your breasts are unhappy.
But, don't worry. You know that TCM Healing Center always comes up with easy-to-follow solutions:
l Food: reducing phlegm and preventing qi and blood stagnation is the key. Stay away from highly processed meats and sugary foods and beverages. Limit alcohol to 3 ounces of dry red wine no more than three times a week. Seaweed (if you have thyroid conditions or are currently pregnant, please consult your doctor) is very good at dissolving phlegm nodules. Citrus fruits and apple cider vinegar are excellent at soothing liver qi and improving mood. Low-mercury fatty fish are a good source of Omega 3,6,9, used to improve hormone balance, healthy blood flow, and anti-oxidation.
l Sleep: 11 pm-3 am is the Liver and gallbladder channels' time clock, detoxing, and the yin-yang transaction happens. Falling into a deep sleep at this time window can ensure your whole body will flow smoothly and stay in a relatively calm and balanced mood. Thus, it's very important to get ready for sleep around 10:00-10:30 pm.
l Exercise: in TCM, we always give specific advice to individuals. For people who already have qi stagnation and heat, without deficiency, an intense workout for a short time will help break up the stagnation. For example, go boxing if you are angry or under high stress. Punch it out will relieve your breast tenderness! If you feel a little gloomy or overall good, gentle yoga, pilates, walking, and Qi Gong exercises will be ideal for you.
To put it simply, TCM’s approach to promoting breast health and cancer prevention is maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular acupuncture to avoid any Qi and Blood stagnation.