Tender or lumpy breasts are common conditions. Unfortunately, the myth that these conditions represent an increased risk of breast cancer is widespread. The term fibrocystic breast disease is really inaccurate since this is not a disease, but rather a condition that exists in all women to some extent. But the term is used since doctors need to assign a code to any condition in order to be reimbursed for treating it.
A certain degree of irregularity in breast tissue is normal since the tissue comprising breasts is not homogeneous. It is a mixture of glands, fat and connective tissue, causing all breasts to feel different.
Non-symmetrical lumpiness in the breasts is almost always non-progressing and benign, and generally can be managed through watchful waiting, since there is only a 5% risk that breast cancer will progress from this condition. Physicians frequently recommend needle biopsies, but this is generally not necessary. Biopsies are physically painful and cause extreme stress, since women generally are afraid of a cancer diagnosis, which is, again, quite rare.
There are several factors that lead to tender or fibrocystic breasts. One is hormonal imbalances, including estrogen dominance. Consuming a high-fiber, low-fat diet; avoiding dairy products and non-organic animal foods; engaging in regular exercise; and achieving and maintaining optimal weight and body composition are effective in reducing estrogen levels. Caffeine consumption has been linked to the development of fibrocystic breasts, so restricting caffeine intake is effective too.
Diet and lifestyle change can reduce breast tenderness and prevent the development of cysts (these same diet and lifestyle changes will reduce the risk of other degenerative conditions, including breast cancer, as well). In many instances, cysts reduce or are eliminated over a period of time after a program of dietary excellence and optimal habits is adopted. Traditional treatments include drugs such as birth control pills to manipulate hormone levels. This should be avoided, since synthetic hormones have been shown to be carcinogens, and for many women, oral contraceptives increase breast pain.