Many women are affected by benign, or non-cancerous, breast cysts. There are many factors that can contribute to this problem, including age, hormones and certain dietary factors, such as caffeine use. Women should be aware of the symptoms of benign breast lumps and know how to distinguish them from lumps that need to be more carefully evaluated by a doctor.
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Although caffeine does not directly cause benign breast lumps, large amounts of it can cause hormone levels to fluctuate, which can be a cause of breast cysts and pain. Although the benign fibroid cysts that are linked to caffeine use are non-cancerous, they can be very uncomfortable, as well as causing worry for a woman suffering from them.
About 30 percent of women in America have fibrocystic breast disease, as reported by Healthy.net. The characteristics of this benign condition are round lumps with well defined edges that move freely within the breast. These lumps are often tender when touched. Symptoms are often worse right before menstruation and ease once the woman’s period has begun. It is especially common in women who are in their later 30s and 40s.
In addition to cutting down on caffeine from coffee, teas, soft drinks and chocolate, other actions that can be taken to reduce or prevent breast cysts are to eat a high fiber diet and consume more seafood. Certain vitamins and minerals might also help, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E and iodine.
Studies on the link between benign breast lumps and caffeine have shown mixed results. However, Medline Plus advises avoiding excessive caffeine use and lowering fat intake in order to avoid fibrocystic changes within the breast.
When in doubt about a breast lump, it’s always best to consult a doctor. Although 80-85 percent of all breast lumps in women, particularly those under 40, turn out to be benign, it’s better to use caution. Most women should have mammograms regularly after age 40. In general mammograms will be recommended every year or two. Those with a family history of breast cancer or who are concerned should ask their doctor for specific recommendations. Women should also perform monthly self exams to assess any changes in breasts. Certain symptoms should always warrant a visit to the doctor as soon as possible, such as unexplained weight loss, armpit lumps, nipple discharge and arm swelling. Changes in the nipple and painless lumps that have irregular borders should also be checked out further.