Possible causes of breast tenderness
I suspect that hormonal supplements (Oestrogen, progesterone or prolactin)
fed to dairy cattle to promote milk production are transmitted to milk. These
hormones are acting on my breasts too, promoting growth and tenderness. Since
most women do not suffer breast tenderness and hormone levels in milk should
in theory be very low, I suppose that I must have a particular sensitivity to
these hormones or an already somewhat skewed balance of hormones.
As discerning users of the web, you will be judging the worth of my advice.
Here are some facts you should know about me.
- I am an independent lay person with no vested interest in any company.
- I have a degree in Genetics
- I work as a teacher of 'A' level Biology
- I have published these pages to help other people like myself and hopefully
to discover whether my solution works for others as well as it does for me
Evidence from travel
When travelling in less developed countries where farmers have no access to
cattle feed , I experience no breast tenderness. Travel to a rapidly developing
country with a reputation for loosely regulated factory farming and the problem
is doubly bad.
For the last two years I have been travelling the world on my bicycle. This
has given me a chance to test milk produced in eleven different countries (so
far!) for its effect on my breasts. Interestingly, in Russia, Ukraine, Malaysia
and Mongolia I experienced no breast tenderness, despite consuming a pint of
milk each day. The condensed milk of Greece, Noy Noy, also seemed OK. Milk in
France, Italy and Australia caused me great aggravation after three trouble
free years drinking organic milk in the UK . In Thailand I have experienced
sore breasts despite giving up milk. I became a temporary vegetarian in Thailand
which solved the problem. (3).
So far my working hypothesis is that the hormonal composition of milk differs
significantly between the cattle of the UK France, Italy and Australia with
those of Russia and Mongolia. The European milk having higher levels of some
unknown! hormone. I expect a similar pattern when comparing non organic milk
with organic. The reason for the difference may be due to the differing breeds
of cattle used, or to hormone supplements fed to cattle in the UK, France and
Information from the web
- Milk naturally contains low levels of many hormones active in humans including
Oestrogen and Prolactin and some IGF-1 growth hormone (1, 2).
- Oestrogen can cause breast tenderness in some people (listed under possible
side effects of oral contraceptives)
- One website (1), gave Oestrogen levels in a typical daily allowance of milk
to be only 0.012% of a normal woman's natural oestrogen production per day.
This does not fit with my hypothesis. I do not know how closely milk is screened
for the presence of excess hormone before it is sold. If farmers were using
more than the recommended dose of hormone would it go unnoticed?
- A new GM hormone, Bovine growth hormone has been approved for use in the
US. There are worries that this hormone raises the level of IGF-1 in milk.
IGF-1 has been implicated in breast cancer (2).
- GM bovine growth hormone is unlikely to be the source of my breast tenderness,
which dates back to well before it's existence. The hormone has also not been
cleared for use in the UK. This does not mean that this hormone would have
no effect on me if I travelled to the US.
- A range of other "naturally produced hormones", such as oestrogens
are cleared for use in cattle. They have been used for some years. I could
not find specific info here, It may be these hormone supplements that effect
- Breast tenderness is (along with a host of other symptoms), a manifestation
of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Nobody claims to know the exact cause of
the tenderness theories abound (4). Apparently oestrogen levels in women with
PMS are not unusually high.
- Bromocriptine is a drug which inhibits prolactin release. It is given to
treat severe breast tendernes, but causes nausea as a side effect (4).
- Magnesium supplements and vitamin E are given to treat breast tenderness
see (4) for doses.
- Dairy products and sugar may interfere with Magnesium uptake (4). Perhaps
non organic milk in some way causes greater interferance with this process?
- Breast tenderness can be associated with menopause.
- Chaste Tree berries (Agnus Castus) is recommended as a herbal remedy for
PMS including breast pain. It is said to stimulate LH production and boost
progesterone levels, prelonging the luteal phase.
- Saliva tests are availiable to record levels of varoius female hormones.
These tests in conjuction with a switch to organic milk could make an interesting
Informative article from a group promoting dairy products for health.
3) www.mark-ju.net website about my travels
Great site summarising treatments for PMS and possible causes
5) www.pms.org.uk. Although you have to pay to
see the main site, you can join the forum for free one you register a username
Contact me please
Clearly this is far from firm evidence. I am aware that this website does not
in any way represent a rigorous approach to researching this problem, but it
is the best I can do whilst on the road. Any links, particularly to websites
about agricultural practices would be helpful. I would love to hear from any
persons already researching in this general area. I would love to hear of studies
comparing the hormonal composition of organic and non organic milks. Most of
all I would like to hear from others sharing this problem.
Please mail me at email@example.com.
All your help gratefully received. Juliette Mclean
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