The Effect of Vitamin E on Breast Lumps

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Vitamin E capsules. (Image: tzahiV/iStock/Getty Images)

Breast growth begins during embryonic development, and cycles of female breast growth continue throughout puberty, during pregnancy, and over the course of each menstrual cycle. In some cases, breast growth can lead to the development of breast lumps, which can occur as side effects of normal hormone cycling, or might indicate an underlying disorder like a breast tumor. Your diet plays a role in the health of your breasts, and nutrients such as vitamin E can have an effect on fibrocystic change, a condition that can cause breast lumps.

Reasons for Fibrocystic Change

Fibrocystic change occurs naturally in some women over the course of each menstrual cycle. The cycling of female hormones that accompanies ovulation and menstruation also has an effect on breast tissue, and the glads within the breast grow during each menstrual cycle to prepare for a possible pregnancy, then shrink if a pregnancy does not occur. Women develop fibrocystic change when these small growth spurts become exaggerated, leading to larger glandular growth and shrinkage in each menstrual cycle.

Symptoms of Fibrocystic Change

The primary symptom associated with fibrocystic change is the development of breast lumps. Women typically notice lumpiness in both breasts, though the condition can also affect one breast but not the other. The exaggerated breast growth can also lead to discomfort, leading to breast tenderness when touched. Taking vitamin E supplements can help control breast growth in some women, and potentially help alleviate the symptoms associated with fibrocystic change, according to Medline Plus. If you develop breast lumps and tenderness, consult a doctor to confirm the presence of fibrocystic change, as well as to determine the possible benefit of taking vitamin E.

Vitamin E and Breast Growth

Vitamin E might have an effect on the hormones that control breast growth, and may therefore play a role in fibrocystic change. One of the major hormones that governs breast growth is estrogen, which triggers the proliferation of the cells that make up breast glandular tissue. A study published in "Nutrition and Cancer" in 2005 indicates that vitamin E may affect how your breast cells respond to estrogen, and might inhibit breast growth upon exposure to estrogen. While the specific role of vitamin E in fibrocystic change has not yet been fully explored, this may explain why the vitamin acts as an effective treatment for the disorder in some women.

Vitamin E and Breast Cancer

Though vitamin E can prove useful in treating the symptoms associated with some types of breast lumps, it may not appear to have an effect on all types of breast growth. Some studies have found a link between vitamin E intake on the risk of developing breast cancer -- abnormal growth of diseased breast cells. However, additional studies have found that vitamin E supplements had no effect on breast cancer growth in post-menopausal women, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health.

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