Breast Health 101

Breast Health 101

Breast Health 101: Parabens, Underwires, Lifestyle, and the C-Word 

Survive and thrive by taking back control over your life, your health, and your boobs!

By Deni Kirkova

Breast health is a topic we can all relate to, whether we’ve been personally affected by breast cancer or not. Currently, one in eight women develops the disease at some point during their lives. And that’s pretty shocking.
A few genetic factors outside our control put some people at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, such as age and gender. However, there are plenty of others that we do have a say in - ones we can manage. That’s a good thing! From diet to our choice of beauty products and more, some habits you may be familiar with while others could surprise you. 


There’s mounting research that eating all veg and no meat reduces your risks of developing cancers. Specifically, adopting a whole foods plant-based diet may be the best step you can take to improving your breast health! Not only can plant foods assist with weight control - and obesity is one of the biggest risk factors - but veggies protect cells from damage and, unlike animal-derived foods, they contain no growth hormones to stimulate tumours. 
Registered dietitian and cancer specialist, Tamar Rothenburg, says: 'Breast cancer is scary, and we can choose to nourish ourselves with a wide array of plant foods, along with joyful movement, and self-kindness. There are over 10,000 cancer-fighting phytochemicals, and they’re only found in plant foods. For example, just adding in a half-cup of beans a day reduces breast cancer risk by 5 per cent. Physical activity and foods filled with powerful nutrients are a dynamic duo to reduce risk. Throw in self-kindness, and you now have a wonderful path to living your best life.’
Take that breast cancer!   


Ah, the underwire bra vs wire-free debate… Ladies, one can’t say bras = breast cancer, but there is evidence that the pressure from underwires and the metal in them could have adverse effects on the breasts. When the material around underwires thins this can cause the metal to irritate the skin and painfully dig in. Plus, many women avoid underwires for myriad reasons unrelated to health, such as comfort, and wanting a more natural look and feel.
Fabulous fashion items offering bra-free support include BJ's PJs Bettina and Justine tops, or Adele or Kylie dresses. The low-maintenance designs feature no fussy clips, they’re fully washable and offer gentle support in bed. Not only do they keep the girls lifted but they’re made from super soft organic 4-way stretch cotton which is super comfortable for daily wear, hospital stays, and new mums.
Plus remember, choosing natural materials over synthetic is always a good idea in regards to breast health. The reason for this is that synthetic and non-organic fabrics add to your toxic load. Did you know that textile factory workers have to wear face masks? They dip fabrics in formaldehyde! This is to give fabrics certain qualities but essentially it is coating them in a carcinogenic, toxic chemical. And formaldehyde can be super harmful.


In line with choosing natural fabrics, are you keeping an eye on your daily exposure to other chemicals such as parabens? Artificial preservatives and toxic compounds are found in most manufactured beauty products, pharmaceuticals and food. Eek! These can be ingested or absorbed through the skin, meaning the concentration in our bodies builds up. And research shows that parabens mimic oestrogen, disturb the endocrine system, may cause early puberty and even contribute to breast cancer.  
It’s best to limit your exposure where possible, so look for natural, organic alternatives to big brands. Wonderful health coach, nutritional therapist and yoga teacher Lenka Pagan has plenty to  say on the matter: ‘Thousands of products on the market contain aluminium (linked to breast cancer), triclosan (biological toxin easily absorbed through the skin) and artificial fragrances, colours and preservatives.’

In light of this, Lenka recommends using natural deodorants such as crystal, stone, roll-on or cream varieties. Choose wisely and look for varieties that are free of aluminium salts, parabens, BPAs, petrochemicals or plastic packaging. We personally adore the Axilla Deodorant Paste by Black Chicken Remedies.
When it comes to soaps in the home, Lenka recommends ditching nasty antibacterial soap in favour of natural and organic bars. Why? Lenka says: ‘In recent years the FDA said triclosan and triclocarban, which are found in antibacterial soaps sold in supermarkets, are harmful. And they can cause rashes, irritation, itchiness, soreness and even dry cracked hands.’ These chemicals are now banned in the US, but not in the UK and Australia! Oh dear…
It’s all pretty scary, but did you know that natural organic soaps have healing properties? Lenka says: ‘They only contain natural ingredients and that can greatly contribute to the treatment of eczema, acne and other skin conditions.’ Try Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Bar Soap.

Take back control over your life and your health by following our guide below. 

Yoga in BJ's PJ's

Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Breasts

What to do in abundance! 

  • Be physically active. Obesity increases your chances of breast cancer, especially with age.
  • Eat dark, green, leafy vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, fruits, especially berries and peaches, plus beans, pulses, and whole grains. Try to incorporate all 9 tree nuts into your diet as each one offers its own nutrition powerhouse. Can you name them all?*
  • Switch to natural beauty such as paraben-free deodorants and organic soap bars.
  • Wear natural, organic fabric.
  • Try wire-free bras or ditch bras in favour of supportive clothing.
  • Breastfeed your babies until they’re about 1 year old or longer if you can, as it protects against breast cancer.

Things that are a no-no

  • Drinking too much. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. 
  • Smoking! Obviously.
  • Eating too much meat, especially red and processed meat. Animal protein-heavy meals have been found to contribute to cancer risk factors. It’s best avoided.
  • Too much exposure to BPA, plastics, plus lab-made textiles and materials. As if we needed another reason to go to Zero Waste in 2020!
  • Wearing underwire bras all the time. There is some anecdotal evidence that tight bras and underwires can cause adverse effects to your health. It might be worth switching to non-wired alternatives (at least for the comfort!)
  • A lot of hormone therapy, or over a long period of time. Combination hormone therapy (HRT) for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. 
  • Excessive exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Get medical-imaging CT tests only when absolutely necessary!
All of BJ’s PJs tops and dresses are made from natural cotton and offer wire-free breast support. They are great for home comfort, yoga, post-surgery, maternity wear, and breastfeeding, with a focus on sustainability, quality, and empowering women to look good and still feel comfortable. Check out our selection here.
 p.s. the 9 tree nuts are: Almond, Brazil nut, Cashew, Chestnut, Hazelnut, Macadamia, Pecan, Pistachio, and Walnut.
 Check out Deni’s blog, Glowing Up, and her Instagram page.

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