~Fibrocystic Breast Disease, Part 4 - Other Considerations & Summary
- Thyroid Deficiency
- Pancreatic Enzymes
According to some alternative-care practitioners, a malfunctioning thyroid gland may be a precursor to many disorders in females. With hypothyroidism, hormones such as LH, FSH, and prolactin may be overly stimulated. Researchers have linked breast abnormalities, including FBD, to repeated hormonal arousal (Lark 1996). An early study of 19 women with breast pain (mastodynia) and nodularity caused by FBD reported that almost half (47%) the women had total relief after daily treatment with 0.1 mg of levothyroxine (Synthroid). Three patients had elevated serum prolactin levels. Their prolactin levels became normal and they experienced dramatic pain relief after treatment with levothyroxine (Estes 1981).
A review of three clinical studies using sodium iodide, protein-bound iodide, and molecular iodine showed clinical improvements in FBD of 70%, 40%, and 72%, respectively (Ghent et al. 1993). The review concluded that molecular iodine was non-thyrotropic (did not alter) and was the most beneficial. Thus, some suggest that treating thyroid problems might reduce the risk or incidence of FBD and improve the symptoms (Ghent et al. 1993).
Another study looked at thyroid hormones and FBD. The data suggested that free T3 had an important role in the physiology of FBD (Martinez et al. 1995). To further examine this theory, a study looked at the levels of triiodothyroxine (T3), thyroxin (T4), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and prolactin (Prl) in FBD (Zych et al. 1996). The authors found that the T4 levels were significantly lower in women with FBD than in controls. They concluded that there seemed to be a connection between FBD and thyroid function (Zych et al. 1996).
Taking daily iodine will help support a healthy thyroid. Kelp may also be beneficial. However, be certain that the seaweed is harvested from clean water. A simple, convenient source of iodine is table salt containing iodine.
According to researchers from Germany, pancreatic enzymes may reduce tumors and cysts, inflammation, and soreness. In a study of 96 patients, cyst size was reduced significantly after women took an enzyme preparation for 6 weeks. Additionally, the women reported significant improvement and less pain. A preparation containing lipase, protease, and amylase was recommended at a dosage of 103 strength (Ditmar et al. 1993)
More than 50% of all women experience symptoms of FBD at some time in their lives. In some women, the symptoms improve after a menstrual cycle. Symptoms may also cease or improve after menopause. It is not unusual for FBD to continue in postmenopausal women who use hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There is no conclusive evidence that FBD is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Practice monthly breast self-examination. If a new or an unusual change is detected, contact your health care practitioner promptly for an evaluation. Have a yearly breast examination from your health care practitioner. Also have a mammogram yearly or as recommended by your physician.
Take preventive measures to lessen your chances of developing or intensifying FBD. Eat whole foods, emphasizing fruits and vegetables, and support your immune and hormonal systems with supplements. While there is little evidence that caffeine causes FBD, some women report that FBD improves after eliminating caffeine from their diets.
Consider Indole-3-Carbinol: 1 capsule twice daily for those weighing under 120 pounds; 1 capsule 3 times daily for those weighing 120-180 pounds; and 1 capsule 4 times daily for those over 180 pounds.
If you have FBD, try natural therapies (diet and nutritional supplements) for three months and monitor your symptoms. If you choose conventional medical therapy, consult your physician for advice about the options for treating FBD. Proceed to hormonal or drug treatments only with the advice of a physician or if you still experience no relief (see the protocol on Breast Cancer).
Caution: Some believe that pregnant women should avoid indole-3-carbinol.)
- Consider Natural Estrogen (a soy-based phytoestrogen), one caplet morning and evening taken cyclically: 3 weeks on and 1 week off, beginning on day 5 of the menstrual cycle for premenopausal women and every day for postmenopausal women.
- Consider Pro Fem, natural progesterone cream from soy, applied according to label instructions.
- DHEA should be considered in women over the age of 40. The usual dose ranges from 15-50 mg. Refer to the DHEA Replacement Therapy protocol for specific directions.
- CLA 76% may be taken for anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory effects: three to four 1000-mg capsules daily for healthy people.
- A balanced formula of the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is available in Super GLA/DHA; 6 softgels daily are recommended.
- Take Fiber Food Caps (6 capsules with each meal), Fiber Food Powder (1 tsp with each meal), or Apple Pectin Powder (1 tsp before meals). Note: Do not take fiber supplements with oil-based products such as CLA.
- Consider taking Life Flora. Six 300-mg capsules taken daily with NutraFlora (1/2 to 1 tsp daily) are suggested for initial GI tract loading. One to four capsules of Life Flora are suggested for maintenance of healthy GI tract bacteria. Life Flora is most effectively used when taken between meals in divided doses, either dissolved in the mouth or taken with water.
- Take folic acid (800 mcg) + B12 (300 mcg), 1 capsule daily for healthy people. Folic acid is especially important for women of child-bearing age.
- Vitamin A (beta-carotene), 1 or 2 capsules (25,000-50,000 IU) daily, may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.
- Vitamin C is required for all tissue repair; 2.5-6 grams daily are suggested (includes dietary and supplemental sources). (Vitamin C Caps from Life Extension contain 1000 mg per capsule.)
- Gamma E Tocopherol/Tocotrienols is a balanced vitamin E supplement that acts as an antioxidant and may also help balance hormone levels; 1 capsule daily is suggested.
- Support the pancreas with pancreatic enzymes. Pancreatin (4X enzymes), 1-3 (500-mg) capsules taken on an empty stomach between meals, is suggested.
- Echinacea is a detoxifying herb. For healthy people, take 1-2 capsules daily for 10-14 days, then 4-7 days off. Smaller doses, such as in Life Extension Herbal Mix, may be taken continuously.
- Goldenseal may be taken as a substitute for Echinacea: 1-3 capsules daily for healthy people in divided doses for 1-2 weeks. Smaller doses, such as in Life Extension Herbal Mix, may be taken continuously.
- Saw palmetto may relieve cyclical pain and reduce inflammation; 160-320 mg daily, standardized to contain 85-95% fatty acids and sterols, is suggested. (Super Saw Palmetto softgel from Life Extension contains 320 mg per capsule.)
- Consider the herb chasteberry for anti-inflammatory properties: 20-40 mg of fresh berries or 175-225 mg daily.
Caution: Women taking oral contraceptives or pregnant women should not take chasteberry.)
- Drink up to 2 cups of dandelion tea daily (or take a 500-mg capsule 2-3 times daily).
- Apply warm castor oil packs.
- Apply violet leaf poultices: 2 or more cups made from 500 mL.
- Support a healthy thyroid by taking 200-250 mcg of iodine daily. Kelp, 1500-2000 mg in divided doses, may also be beneficial.
For more information about research studies, contact the American Cancer Society, (800) 227-2345.
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