Fibrocystic breast changes is a condition in which small non-cancerous lumps form and cause discomfort in one or both breasts. They are a result of hormonal changes and are most common in women of childbearing age or between the ages of 30 and 50.
A small percentage of women with fibrous breasts may have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer but the majority of cases are benign.
Once referred to as a disease, the name was changed to fibrocystic breast changes, or fibrocystic breast condition, due to the commonality of the experience among women. The medical abbreviation is FCC. More than 60% of women will experience fibrous breasts during their lifetime but it is uncommon for women to experience FCC after menopause.
Signs of Fibrocystic Breast Changes
- Breasts feel larger or thicker
- Small lumps can be felt in one or both breasts and may vary in shape and density
- Breasts may be sensitive or painful when touched
- Aches, burning and itching may also indicate FCC
- Breasts may change during pregnancy or your menstrual cycle as hormones fluctuate
There are two common forms of fibrocystic breast changes. The first is fibrosis with lumps that feel slightly rubbery and firm to the touch.
The second manifests as cysts that are small sacs filled with fluid. You may or may not be able to feel them. When they are 1-2 inches in diameter detecting them is easier.
Naturally, if you are unable to tell the difference between fibrosis, cysts or a mass – consult your physician for further testing, which may include a mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy to determine what your lump is and put your mind at ease.
What Causes Fibrocystic Breasts?
FCC occurs in the glands in your breasts that produce and secrete milk. Hormone changes in estrogen and testosterone may result in an increase in blood flow and gland activity, which makes the breasts feel more full than usual.
Once a hormonal change balances—such as after pregnancy or post-menstrual cycle—the breasts are unable to slough off the unneeded increases the way your uterus does.
Your body doesn’t need the cells so they go through a process called apoptosis or cell death. The exact effect these clusters of unnecessary cells cause is different with every woman. After repeated menstrual cycles and/or pregnancy, these clusters may lead to fibrocystic breast changes if the body is unable to flush them.
If you have been diagnosed with FCC it is important to have regular checkups and schedule yearly mammograms—sometimes done in combination with an ultrasound, which drastically increases your chances of detecting problems early.
Are We Missing an Essential Mineral?
Iodine is a mineral that has faded from public consciousness. Most believe we are getting enough in iodized salt and iodine-enriched wheat products, but, unfortunately, iodine deficiency is making a comeback as an epidemic in the United States.
Conditions Linked to Iodine Deficiency
- Breast cysts and tenderness
- Breast cancer
- Thyroid dysfunction – both under-active and overactive
- Thyroid cancer
- Heart disease
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic pain
- Low body temperature
- Unexplained weight gain
Manufacturers now use potassium bromate instead of iodine to process wheat—but bromine blocks the absorption and effectiveness of iodine.
Chlorine and fluoride, which are added to tap water around the country, also block iodine absorption. The International Agency for Research classified potassium bromate as a carcinogen. It has been banned in the United Kingdom and Canada since the 1990s, when it was proven to cause cancer in laboratory subjects.
The end result? Our national intake of iodine has dropped by more than 50% since 1971. Your body depends on this essential nutrient for cellular processes and metabolic function!
Japanese women have 65% fewer cases of breast cancer than women in the U.S. do. The low breast cancer rate is believed to be a result of the Japanese diet, which is abundant in iodine-rich seafood and seaweed.
They also do not consume unfermented soy such as soy milk, soy cheese and the soy fillers added to a huge percentage of our pre-packaged and over-processed foods.
Using Iodine to Treat Fibrocystic Breast Disease
The effect of various forms of iodine for fibrocystic breast disease treatment changes were examined in three long-term studies conducted by Queen’s University, Ontario on more than 1,300 participants. Molecular iodine showed the most promise—74% of women studied experienced clinical and objective improvement with no negative impact on the thyroid.
The standard iodine supplement (between 5-12mg) should be taken once every day for three months. If you feel better, keep taking them. If you stop taking them and your symptoms return, then get back on them.
Some people find that a single purchase of iodine supplements is enough to rebalance their systems. Each person is different.
If you suffer from breast cancer, consider adding a slightly higher dose of iodine (12-13mg) each day to your long term treatment in conjunction with the standard treatment prescribed by your doctor—and always let your health care provider know when you add supplements to your daily routine.
There are other simple methods that may relieve the symptoms for your fibrocystic breast disease treatment. Use what works best for you.
- Wearing a supportive bra—even at night—may reduce aching in the breasts.
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication has been shown to relieve symptoms of FCC.
- Vitamin E has been reported to relieve breast sensitivity.
- Oral contraceptives can help to regulate menstrual cycles and ease the symptoms of FCC.
- Limiting caffeine intake has been shown in some studies to contribute to the severity of FCC but results are inconclusive.
- Taking an evening primrose supplement.
Fibrocystic breast disease treatment does not have to be invasive and you do not have to live with the discomfort, embarrassment and worry if this time. Take your life back and remember why it’s so great to be a woman!