Benign (non-cancerous) breast disease is a family of rather ill-defined conditions which show up as pain and lumpiness in the breast. The pain, tenderness and lumps fluctuate with the phases of the menstrual cycle and tend to get progressively worse until the menopause.

The vast majority of women who have painful, lumpy breasts will not go on to get cancer of the breast. However, the condition is still worrying and wearing on a month-to-month basis. If ever a normally lumpy breast begins to have a well-defined mass, a blood-stained nipple discharge, a turning-in or tethering of the nipples, abnormalities in the overlying skin or glands in the armpit, consult your doctor at once.

No one knows for sure but the prolactin antagonist drug, Bromocriptine, and the female sex hormone antagonist, Danazol, both help cure the condition in some women, so presumably hormones play an important part in the story. Unfortunately, both these drugs are expensive and have side-effects.

Research in many centers over the years has made it possible to piece together a preventive package which can also be curative.

• Stop smoking.

• Reduce the amount of animal fats you eat. The Japanese, who eat lots of fish and very little animal fat, have very little benign breast disease. Also, studies of women with breast disease suggest that there is a disturbance of fatty acid metabolism which can be corrected by reducing the amount of animal fat they eat and increasing the amount of polyunsaturated fats in their diets. Oily fish, such as mackerel, herring and salmon, are especially useful.

• Avoid tea, coffee, cola and other caffeine-containing substances. These all contain various biologically active substances called methylxanthines which have been found to aggravate breast disease.

• Take a dietary supplement containing the following:

Vitamin E, 4-600 IU daily

Vitamin B6, 50-100 mg daily

Vitamin  complex, 25 mg daily

Magnesium, 200 mg daily

Zinc, 10-40 mg daily (especially if your breasts are worse pre-menstrually)

Cold-pressed linseed oil, 1 – 2 tablespoons daily

Evening primrose oil, 4 – 8,500 mg capsules daily


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