What Is Fibrocystic Breast Disease?

Theories as to cause, treatments, symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease.

Not being a vain person, I never gave a real thought to my breasts. They are a part of me that fed my two youngest children which I have always taken for granted. That is until the day I started having pain in my right one.

I am an active woman who thinks nothing of carrying lumber, sacks of concrete, hanging doors or even building walls so I took it for granted the pain was a result of straining a muscle. The problem is the pain didn't disappear for several weeks. I finally started checking the breast and thought I felt something funny. Again I waited. I kept telling myself it was in my head and nothing was really wrong. Then my husband found out he insisted I go to the doctor to be checked.

I made my appointment for the next week and kept assuring him and myself that it was just in my head. Convincing myself that nothing was there. Setting myself up to be broadsided when the doctor said that something was there.

From there, tests were scheduled and for two weeks I worried over my breast. I never really considered them much until the thought of losing one. I thought of how I would feel about having one breast and how it might affect my husband; a self admitted breast man. Over and over he assured me it would make no difference. Over and over I would dwell on possible outcomes.

When the results came back, it was found I had Fibrocystic Breast Disease (FBD). FBD is also known as cystic mastitis causes abnormal benign (non-cancerous) tissue in breasts. As an adoptive child with no family medical history, I began researching this disease to find out more about it.

A few of my discoveries included:

1. Fibrocystic Breast Disease is a condition that is most common in pre-menopausal women.

2. Statistics report it affects 30% to 40% of women.

3. Symptoms can vary from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful swelling of the breast tissue.

4. Fibrocystic Breast Disease is not cancerous but the conditions that create it are considered a 5% risk factor for cancer.

5. It is believed high estrogen to progesterone ratios is one of the causes of the disease.

6. Women with high levels of the hormone Prolactin also seem to have a higher occurrence of FBC

7. The conditions often seem to go in cycles and usually occur right before a menstrual period.

8. Proper levels of dietary fiber reduce the risks of FBD.

9. Women who have 3 or fewer bowel movements run a 4.5% higher risk when compared to those who have a daily bowel movement.

10. Hypothyroidism and/or Iodine deficiencies have been shown to cause fibrocystic breast disease and should be ruled out before treatment of FBD is begun.

11. Certain liver dysfunctions, which affect the clearance or filtering of estrogen, can be a cause of FBD and should be investigated. Some vitamin deficiencies such as B6 and folic acid will also affect the way the estrogen is bonded to glucoronic acid to be turned into bile.

When Fibrocystic Breast Disease has been diagnosed, doctors often recommend a decrease in the intake of caffeinated products such as coffee, tea, certain soft drinks and chocolate. Medications such as aspirin should be checked to see if caffeine in an additive.

The doctor may also recommend some of the following supplements to lower diet risks, occurrences or symptoms of FBD.

1. Evening Primrose to increase the production of prostaglandins so breast tenderness will be decreased.

2. Milk Thistle to aid the liver in metabolizing estrogen.

3. Lactobacillus Acidophilus to also help in the excretion of estrogen.

4. Iodine supplementation may also be recommended to reduce the inflammation and fibrosis but these can often have side effects.

5. Vitamin E to level certain high pituitary hormones that are often seen in patients with FBD.

These are just a few of the options your doctor may discuss with if Fibrocystic Breast Disease is diagnosed. He or she is the only one who will be able to diagnose the problem and rule out other, more serious problems.

I personally can't describe the relief I felt at finding out it was a non-cancerous condition. I can say it never leaves my mind as how my delay in visiting my doctor could have made everything turn out differently including the prognosis.

Every woman regardless of age should get their yearly check ups, pelvic exams and do their monthly breast exams. For those in their late thirties, get a baseline mammogram and for those over forty, put up with that blasted mammogram even if you feel fine. Temporary discomfort isn't worth the risks to not only your overall health but to your very life as well.

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