Wonderful Self-Care for Breasts

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Breast Health

Our task as women is to learn, minute by minute, to respect ourselves and our bodies. Whether our breasts are small or large, perky or droopy, whether we have implants or lumps, or have had a mastectomy, all of “the girls” are wonderful. Our breasts are a source of nourishment and pleasure for both ourselves and others, and should be seen as such! You can improve your breast health almost immediately with these self-care practices:

  • When you touch your breasts, do so with respect and caring. Be grateful they are part of your body. That means if you do a monthly breast self-exam, do NOT do it with a search-and-destroy mentality. This isn’t a military exercise whose purpose is finding and killing an enemy! Instead thank your breasts, chest, and heart area for being a part of your body as you lovingly touch these parts of yourself. Pay special attention to the area up under the armpit where all the lymph nodes are. Massaging this area will assist in ridding your body of toxins, while increasing blood flow and life energy!
  • Open yourself to receiving help, nourishment, and compassion from self and others. When you experience events that cause you sorrow, resentment, or pain, allow yourself to quite literally get these feelings off your chest by experiencing your emotions fully, grieving, and then letting go. “Make a clean breast of it.”
  • Minimize the time you wear your bra every day. Don’t wear a bra to bed. The lymph channels around your breasts and in your armpits need to flow freely. Tight bras shut off this lymph flow, making it much harder for your body to detoxify breast tissue.
  • Sweat it out. Regular exercise is medicine for your breasts. It helps detoxify your body and also helps decrease the amount of estrogen that affects your breasts. Women who exercise regularly have a 30 percent decreased risk for breast cancer.
  • Eat a low-glycemic diet. High blood sugar, which occurs when you eat a high-glycemic diet instead, results in high insulin levels. A high-glycemic diet is a well-documented risk factor for breast disease.
  • Many holistically oriented healthcare practitioners utilize hormone profiles (which can be done by Genova Diagnostics) that measure how well you are metabolizing estrogen—and into what kind of end products. Some metabolites of estrogen are harmful to breast tissue and some aren’t.
  • Supplement! Take a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement that is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, E, B-complex, D, beta-carotene is a must. (This means at least four pills per day.) Antioxidants help the cells in your breasts fight cellular inflammation, which can be a precursor to breast cancer. Get plenty of vitamin D. Studies show that women with optimal levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of breast cancer. Your vitamin D level should be at least 40 ng/ml. If it’s not, talk with your doctor and come up with the best strategy for raising your levels of this important nutrient. Be prepared to take up to 50,000 IUs per week until your levels are high enough and then 1,000–5,000 IUs per day after that.

Finally, give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Imagine that your Higher Power, or spiritual self, is standing right in front of you. And she is the very embodiment of love and compassion. She reaches out, touches your head, and says, “I now forgive you for all the times you ate too much ice cream, got angry with your children, or didn’t clean up. I forgive you for not keeping a promise to yourself or someone else. I forgive you for being human and for not being able to make everyone happy. I forgive you for ever doubting your worth. I forgive you for having needs and for needing other people to love you. I forgive you for trying to hide your pain behind a brave and stoic face.” This forgiveness extends to what you have or haven’t done for your health in the past. If you wish you had done things differently, that’s OK! Every day is a new day, and the perfect day to start practicing prevention.

Last Updated: October 1, 2011

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Janet
    13 years ago

    Question: I am 56, just spent 16 months without a menstrual cycle, and now “Happy Halloween”! I thought I was done with menstrual cycles! Why does this happen? I have a couple of fiends that this happened to also. Do we have to start counting another year? Thank you for being there for all of us.

  2. Liza
    13 years ago

    A piece of erudition ulnike any other!

  3. Aneris
    13 years ago

    You have helped me heal in so many ways throughout the years. . .I’m 50 and just starting to fall in love with my breasts and caring for my whole body. Thank you Dr. Northrup. You are a shinning light on this planet.

  4. Michelle D
    13 years ago

    I heard you recommend PM Phytogen and I ordered it immediately. Ever since I have been taking it I have not had a migraine. I I love listening to you on Hay House; thank you.

  5. Debbie K
    13 years ago

    I am recently off of HRT and the hot flashes and sleepless nights are back! Does anyone have any advice or has tried Amberen?

  6. Michele
    13 years ago

    Thank you for writing that, especially the forgiveness piece. I appreciated the self love video on the body, also. I love my body.

  7. Lowell
    13 years ago

    awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks.

  8. Lieneke
    13 years ago

    Thank you, women do indeed need much more (self) respect. There is nothing wrong with unshaved legs and armpits. Don’t mind if you do but do it for yourself not because of the magazines. Love and greeting from the Netherlands.

  9. Ana Chajma
    13 years ago

    I really love reading all…the best was the part about forgiveness…It´s a long journey, I´m on the way and it is great to follow these wise words, they really help me. Thank you so much.

  10. Jean Schlimme
    13 years ago

    I love how you incorporate caring and nurturing all parts of ourselves….body, mind, soul and spirit to enhance healing on all levels. It is SO much more than eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising. I particularly love your articles on forgiveness and keeping us informed on the latest health issues facing us today. This article on breast care is priceless!!! I just can’t thank you enough for sharing all that you know with all of us!!!

  11. Cheril S Hartman
    13 years ago

    Thank you Dr Northrup for continuing information and care…..

  12. Paige
    13 years ago

    Thank you Christine for a great article, as usual, on helping to change a negative thought to a positive one on Breast Health Awareness month. Next week I will have my third breast thermography and it’s so wonderful not to be stressed out about it. The first time I went in for thermography, the technician told me the attitude of her patients is a stark contrast to those who have mammograms. Now, to work on getting insurance to cover it!!!

  13. Tricia
    13 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this on your blog. All of it is helpful to me but especially the part about forgiveness which made me cry. I was just diagnosed with stage 1 and I am having a lumpectomy on Oct 18th, which happens to be my husbands 45th birthday. Anyone reading please say a prayer for me. I will be forever grateful!!!

  14. Jean LaVallie
    13 years ago

    I have followed Dr. Northrup for 15 years and think she are amazing! I wanted to share with your readers a product that has helped me over come heart disease and is showing great promise in helping women keep their bone density. It comes from the science of increasing Nitric Oxide in our blood streams – it is a powerful vasodilator

  15. Jennifer
    13 years ago

    Thank you. I’ve never looked at myself or forgiving myself that way and I so needed it at this time of my life.

  16. Carol in NH
    13 years ago

    Thanks for the great tips! I’d never heard of some of these and will definitely incorporate them into my life. I love the way you encompass our entire self in the process.

  17. Dianne
    13 years ago

    Thanks for a great article. I have frequently thought that bras were some kind of torture mechanism invented by a man – the first thing I do when I get home is take it off and I avoid wearing one on weekends! I sometimes envy those Aboriginal tribes where they don’t find it necessary LOL!

  18. anita in texas
    13 years ago

    Cheers to the Girls! Save the Ta-ta’s!

    I love the idea of Breast Health Awareness month much better too, and will be using this in my conversation from now on.

  19. Mary Beth
    13 years ago

    We never “examine” our feet or hands or knees expecting them to be disease-ridden. Why are we so concerned about our breasts? The “girls” are our friends. We should EXPECT them to be healthy!

  20. Debrah R
    13 years ago

    And very important–avoid as many toxic chemicals as you can! Eat organic food, don’t use synthetic perfumes (like in fabric softeners, body care products etc), put in a good water filtration system and certainly don’t use any pesticides in your home or yard unless there is no other alternative! Toxic chemicals are the main cause of cancer!

  21. Linda D
    13 years ago

    Thank you so much for your radio show on Breast Health Month today and also today’s blog. I hope you can keep adding to this important information. I also have been for thermography. I’d like to know more about breast cancer prevention through diet & how to do lymph massage.

  22. Katy
    13 years ago

    This is a wonderful piece and I will be sharing it. Thanks for giving us something to pass around this month that doesn’t require “thinking pink” and is actually informative. You never cease to amaze me.

  23. Monique Lon Ho Kee
    13 years ago

    Thank you, Dr Northrup. I really need to read this today as I’m going to receive my
    mammogram’s result next Thursday.

    6 October 2011

  24. Jennifer
    13 years ago

    Dear Dr. Northrup
    thank you for this lovely reminder to touch ourselves with love, not fear.
    Would like to know how to contact someone in your office about using your quotes for a book I am writing about the mid-life transition, The Tao of Turning Fifty.

  25. Polly
    13 years ago

    What beautiful thoughts! I too have wondered why we think of our breasts as only cancerous or pre-cancerous. Hooray for a healthy breast perspective!

  26. Diane Edwards
    13 years ago

    Dr. Gladys McGary, a holistic physician in Phoenix, AZ, shares your approach to mothly breast exams. She said your body will give you what you want. If you go looking for lumps, it will provide them. Instead, approach your exam by first saying, “Ok, girls, do you have anything you want to show me?”

  27. Kate ONeill
    13 years ago

    Such a helpful post, Dr. Northrup. Thank you. I just found a thermography clinic right here in Falmouth, Maine. I do have one question.. can I forego an annual mammogram if I go for a thermography breast exam? Sending you my best wishes and ongoing appreciation.

  28. Mona AlvaradoFrazier
    13 years ago

    I particularly like the angle of self care and love, massaging the lymph nodes (those I have left), and the gift of forgiveness. Best article I’ve read on breast health and I’ll certainly share the article with others.

  29. Virginia
    13 years ago

    Hey, you stated in a much more direct way what I was trying to communicate, thanks, I will recommend your site to my friends.

  30. Michele A
    13 years ago

    Thank you. I really need to read that to remind myself to love and forgive me as well as others. Much appreciated.

  31. Leila Summers
    13 years ago

    Ah, I knew that there was a reason I shouldn’t sleep in my bra! Especially with under wire! I write at night and fall into bed so late and so tired, that I often just sleep as I am. Thank you for this important information! love Leila

  32. Deborah
    13 years ago

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I really needed to read this today, especially reminding myself that the gift of forgiveness is there for me. Many blessings to you!

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