Fibrocystic or lumpy breast

Fibrocystic breasts are characterized by lumpiness and usually discomfort in one or both breasts. The lumpiness is due to small breast masses or breast cysts. The condition is very common and benign, meaning that fibrocystic breasts are not malignant (cancerous).

What are fibrocystic breasts?

Fibrocystic breasts are characterized by lumpiness and usually discomfort in one or both breasts. The lumpiness is due to small breast masses or breast cysts. The condition is very common and benign, meaning that fibrocystic breasts are not malignant (cancerous). Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) is now referred to as fibrocystic changes or fibrocystic breast condition, is the most common cause of "lumpy breasts" and affects more than 60% of women. The condition primarily affects women between the ages of 30 and 50, and tends to resolve after menopause.

What causes cysts, fibrocystic, or "lumpy" breasts?

Fibrocystic breast condition involves the glandular breast tissue. The sole known biologic function of these glands is the production, or secretion, of milk. Occupying a major portion of the breast, the glandular tissue is surrounded by fatty tissue and support elements. The glandular tissue is composed of different types of cells: (1) clusters of secretory cells (cells that produce milk) that are connected to the milk ducts (tiny tubes); and (2) the cells that line the surfaces of the secretory cells, called the epithelial cells.

The most significant contributing factor to fibrocystic breast condition is a woman's normal hormonal variation during her monthly cycle. Many hormonal changes occur as a woman's body prepares each month for a possible pregnancy. The most important of these hormones are estrogen and progesterone. They directly affect the breast tissues by causing cells to grow and multiply.

Many hormones aside from estrogen and progesterone also play an important role in causing fibrocystic breasts. Prolactin, growth factor, insulin, and thyroid hormone are some of the other major hormones that are produced outside of the breast tissue, yet act in important ways on the breast. In addition, the breast itself produces hormonal products from its glandular and fat cells. Signals that are released from these hormonal products are sent to neighboring breast cells. The signals from these hormone-like factors may, in fact, be the key contributors to the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition. These substances may also enhance the effects of estrogen and progesterone and vice versa.

The same cyclical hormones that prepare the glandular tissue in the breast for the possibility of milk production (lactation) are also responsible for a woman's menstrual period. However, there is a major difference between what happens in the breast and uterus.

In the uterus (the womb), these hormones promote the growth and multiplication of the cells lining the uterus. If pregnancy does not occur, this uterine lining is sloughed off and discharged from a woman's body during menstruation.

In the breast, these same hormones stimulate the growth of glandular breast tissue. They also increase the activity of blood vessels, cell metabolism, and supporting tissue. All this activity may contribute to the feeling of breast fullness and fluid retention that women commonly experience before their menstrual period.

When the monthly cycle is over, however, these stimulated breast cells cannot simply slough away and pass out of the body like the lining of the uterus. Instead, many of these breast cells undergo a process of programed cell death, called apoptosis. During apoptosis, enzymes are activated that start digesting cells from within. These cells break down and the resulting cellular fragments are then further broken down by scavenger cells (inflammatory cells) and nearby glandular cells.

During this process, the fragments of broken cells and the inflammation may lead to scarring (fibrosis) that damages the ducts and the clusters (lobules) of glandular tissue within the breast. The inflammatory cells and some of the breakdown fragments may release hormone-like substances that in turn act on the nearby glandular, ductal, and structural support cells.

The amount of cellular breakdown products, the degree of inflammation, and the efficiency of the cellular cleanup process in the breast vary from woman to woman. These factors may also fluctuate from month to month in an individual woman. They may even vary in different areas of the same breast.

Fibrocystic breast condition definition and facts

  • Fibrocystic breast condition is lumpiness in one or both breasts.
  • For some women, symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition include breast tenderness and breast pain.
  • Fibrocystic breast condition is a very common and benign condition.
  • Normal hormonal variation during the menstrual cycle is the primary contributing factor to fibrocystic breast condition.
  • Fibrocystic breast condition is a cumulative process that mainly affects women over 30 years of age and continues through perimenopause and menopause. However, the condition becomes less of a problem after menopause (postmenopause).
  • The foremost concern is not fibrocystic breast condition itself, but the threat of breast cancer.
  • The lumps in fibrocystic breast condition can mimic and mask breast cancer.
  • Recommended measures for women with fibrocystic breast condition include learning about the problem and its symptoms; having regular breast exams by a healthcare professional; and having regular mammograms.
  • Natural home remedies, and supplements to help relieve fibrocystic breast pain that have been reported helpful in some people include vitamins C, E, B6, and A, and oil of primrose.
Herbal remedies that help with Fibrocystic or lumpy breast
 
Bladderwrack Milk thistle Red clover
30 capsules
$11.00
Bladderwrack  
30 capsules
$11.00
Milk
thistle seeds
 
60 capsules
$21.00
Red
clover flower
 
 
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*Ashwagandha
(Withania somnifera)
*Astragalus
(Astragalus membranaceus)
*Brahmi
(Bacopa monnieri)
*Burdock
(Arctium lappa)
*Black Cohosh
(Cimicifuga racemosa)
*Bladderwrack
(Focus vesiculosus)
*Celery seeds
(Apium graviolens)
*Chanca piedra
(Phyllanthus niruri)
*Ceylon cinnamon
(Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
*Cat's claw
(Uncaria tomentosa)
*Dandelion root
(Taraxacum officinale)
*Fenugreek
(Trigonella foenum graecum)
*Ginkgo biloba
(Ginkgo biloba)
*Horse chestnut
(Aesculus hippocastanum)
*Hawthorn berry
(Crateagus oxicanthus)
*Horny goat weed
(Epimedium sagittatum)
*Juniper berry
(Juniperus communis)
*Milk thistle
(Sylibum marianum)
*Maca
(Lepidium meyenii)
*Red clover
(Trifolium pratense)
*American Skullcap
(Scutellaria lateriflora)
*Saw palmetto
(Serenoa repens/serrulata)
*Stinging nettle
(Urtica dioica)
*St John's wort
(Hypericum perforatum)
*Sarsaparrilla
(Smilax aristolochiifolia)
*Schizandra berry
(Schisandra chinensis)
*Vitex
(Agnus castus)
*Valerian root
(Valeriana officinalis)
*White willow
(Salix alba)
*Yarrow
(Achillea millefolium)
*Lion's mane
(Hericium erinaceous
)
*Shiitake
(Lentinula edodes
)