Fibrocystic Changes

Fibrocystic breast condition is a common, non-cancerous condition that affects more than

half of women at some point in their lives. The most common signs of fibrocystic breasts

include lumpiness, tenderness, cysts (packets of fluid), areas of thickening, fibrosis (scarlike

connective tissue), and breast pain. Having fibrocystic breasts, in and of itself, is not a

risk factor for breast cancer. However, fibrocystic breast condition can sometimes make it

more difficult to detect a hidden breast cancer with standard examination and imaging

techniques. Fibrocystic breasts occur from changes in the glandular and stromal

(connective) tissues of the breast. These changes are related to a woman’s menstrual cycle

and the hormones, estrogen and progesterone. In addition, caffeine and chocolate intake

as well as increased stress levels can cause swelling and tenderness to occur.

Women with fibrocystic breasts often have bilateral cyclic breast pain or tenderness that

coincides with their menstrual cycles. Most symptoms disappear in 10 days to two weeks.

We also ask that you do the following in order to better cope with the tenderness an

swelling associated with fibrocystic changes:

• Avoid smoking tobacco

• Abstinence from caffeine and chocolate

• Take Vitamin E at 800 IU per day x 3 months, then 400 IU per day

• Evening Primrose Oil at 3000mg per day (one or divided doses)

• Apply warm soaks (soak in bath tub or jacuzzi)

• Use Aspercreme (unless allergic to aspirin)

• Take anti-inflammatory medications (Ibuprofen 800 mg three times per day for 5 days. This can be repeated for 5 days, but then you should be off for 5 days (as it may cause gastric upset).

• Wear tight bras with good support (best may be a sports bra). You should wear during the day and night.

Fibrocystic breast condition is most common among women between the ages of 30 and 50, although women younger than 30 may also have fibrocystic breasts. Because the condition is related to the menstrual cycle, the symptoms will usually cease after

menopause unless a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy. In some cases, fibrocystic breast symptoms may continue past menopause.

Many women report relief from breast pain after ingesting vitamin E. Though the exact reason is unknown, scientists believe that vitamin E blocks changes in breast tissue caused by substances such as caffeine; many experts think caffeine stimulates the growth of lumps

characterized as fluid-filled cysts. Vitamin E is known to exert both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Vitamin E has also been shown to have positive effects on the heart and skin.