I've read about it off and on. Constriction or lack of flow in lymphatic drainage near a woman's breasts contributes to breast cancer.
When I was at Hippocrates Health Institute, their therapeutic esthetician quoted statistics regarding lower rates of breast cancer in women who get facials! I did a double take as I was ready to pass through the lecture hall room. I always like a good reason for bodywork of any kind.
Intrigued, I perched on the side of a brown leather couch at the back of the room, close to the counter where green juices are served three times a day. The esthetician went on to explain that a good facial helps lymph nodes in the neck and around the collarbone remove cellular waste from breast tissue and explains why women who get facials have less incidence of breast cancer.
While movement and massage helps congested lymphatic fluids drain, it is also important for women to consider ditching their bras, at least some of the time, as bras cut off tiny lymphatic vessels.
Did you know that women who wear bras more than 12 hours a day have a 1 in 7 chance of breast cancer? Women who wear their bras to bed (egad!) have a startling 1 in 4 chance of breast cancer. Conversely, women who generally go braless (those flat-chested or free-spirited women in the Western world and most women in the second and third worlds) have only a 1 in 168 chance of breast cancer (similar to the risk men face).
Thus, women who wear bras should not only do regular breast exams but may also want to consider regular lymphatic drainage massage as a valuable support for their immune system health and to save their breasts from the big bad ugly C.
However, women should be careful about trying to do this kind of work on their own as movements must be quite gentle, steady, and able to move lymph in the right direction to achieve proper drainage.
According to Dr. Bruno Chikly, who is trained in endocrinology, surgery, neurology, and psychiatry and specializes in the lymphatic system:
"Heavy pressure...and kneading may not only hurt but may destroy the few suspensory ligaments (Cooper's ligament) and elastic fibers which prevent sagging (mastoptosis). Additionally, since breast tissue is well-supplied with lymphatics but lacks sources of external compression (such as muscles or strong overlying fascia) to promote the natural lymphatic drainage found in most other body tissues, fluid has a tendency to accumulate in the breast. The light-touch specific approach of LDT provides an ideal solution to fluid stagnation."
If you're a man and used to think that facials and massages are optional time-outs from stress for women, you can give a new kind of gift (Christmas is over but Valentine's Day is fast approaching) and know that you're giving a gift of health and not just pampering.
If you're a woman, round up a friend or two and schedule a facial or a massage after any kind of workout (movement will get more bad stuff into the lymphatic fluid and the facial or massage will help unblock any places of flow that are congested).
If you're a bodyworker offering lymphatic drainage massage, you need to do more to educate the women in your community! I'm a dyed-in-the-wool deep tissue fan and thoroughly disdained the idea of a featherlight massage as being beyond the point of getting a massage. I just needed a little education.