Fibrocystic breast changes are the most common benign breast condition among women ages 20-50. Women who have this condition know what this feels like; lumpy, dense, painful and tender breast tissue especially premenstrually in a woman’s cycle.
A recent study at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston compared breast density in over 1000 postmenopausal women who had breast cancer and women who did not have breast cancer. Women with 50% or higher breast density on mammogram were 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer over a 15 year period than women with less than 10% breast density. It could be that cancers are more difficult to spot in dense breasts, or there could be some other underlying reasons. Breast density is graded, or classified using a system called “BiRads” on mammogram.
While the cause for these fibrocystic changes is unknown, it is believed to be due to hormone imbalances, usually due to an excess ratio of estrogen to progesterone. I also find that this condition is inherited in which other female members in the family also exhibit these symptoms.
Although the typical medical treatments include birth control pills and diuretics to decrease the symptoms, there are many dietary interventions and nutritional supplements that benefit women with fibrocystic changes. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Avoid Caffeine- Studies have shown a 65-88% resolution of fibrocystic breast changes after avoiding caffeine for 1-6 months. Yes, that means coffee, tea, cola and chocolate. Just reducing these products may not make a difference. It is best to avoid them completely.
2. Bioresponse DIM- This supplement has the active compounds of cruciferous (brassica) vegetables. It is much more concentrated than what you could eat of these vegetables, and research has shown this product promotes healthy estrogen metabolite balance.
3. Vitamin E- Many women have found moderate to complete relief of symptoms with 600-800 IU daily.
4. B Vitamins- Many women are B-vitamin deficient. These vitamins are vital in helping the inactivation of estrogens by the liver.
5. Iodine supplementation- clinical studies have shown significant improvement in women with fibrocystic breast changes. Iodine is an essential mineral for normal thyroid function. Also consider getting your thyroid level checked.
6. Liver Detox- last but not least, consider a liver cleanse. Breast tissue is a storage house for estrogen as well as toxins. High levels of either results in inflammation and contributes to fibrocystic breast symptoms. A liver detox and elimination diet will aid in the detoxification of estrogens and toxins in the liver.
1. Patrick, Lyn, “Iodine: Deficiency and Therapeutic Considerations”. Alternative Medicine Review, Vol 13,
Number 2, 2008. p. 116-127.
2. Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. “The Breast Density-Breast Cancer Connection”. 2000-2011.