Homeopathy Papers

Breast Cancer Research Articles

Robin Murphy N.D. has provided a collection of six fascinating research articles on breast cancer.

1. Breast Massage for Better Health

Bras and breast cancer – Do bras restrict lymph flow and therefore increase the risk of breast cancer?

A recent study of over 4700 women  (2056 previously diagnosed with breast cancer, 2674 never diagnosed with breast cancer) indicated that there was a positive correlation between breast cancer and the length of time that women wore bras per day:

* Those who wore a bra all day-long (defined in the study as any period more than 12 hours) had statistically 21 times greater risk of breast cancer than those who only wore a bra for only part of the day (defined in the study as any period up to 12 hours).
* Women who wore their bras all day and night (essentially 24 hours per day) had a 5 times greater chance of developing breast cancer than those who wore it all day-long.

The study conjectured that wearing a bra may constrict the flow of lymph fluid in the breast, which then causes the higher risk of breast cancer. Lymph fluid is the natural watery fluid which surrounds and bathes cells in body tissues.  Lymph fluid carries disease-fighting cells and helps remove accumulated toxins, some of which may be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).

The impaired flow of lymph fluid is thought to allow toxins to build up, thus causing breast tissue cells to be exposed to higher concentrations of cancer-causing toxins for longer periods of time. The study suggested that women wear their bras for fewer hours, thus giving their breasts time to “recover” and also not wearing bras that feel constrictive or tight.

For more details on the study, conducted by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, see their book Dressed to Kill, (Avery Publishing Group, New York, 1995). ISBN 0-89529-664-0.Available from The Naturist Society, P.O. Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54902, Tel. 414-426-5009.

Breast massage for better health by improving lymph fluid flow. The author of this Web page hypothesizes that methods of increasing lymph fluid flow may be a preventative measure to reduce the incidence of breast cancer.  In muscles, lymph fluid flow can be stimulated by exercise or by massage.   For soft non-muscular tissues like breast tissue, massage is a principal method of increasing lymph fluid flow.   Massage also stimulates blood flow, which might also be helpful.

The following frequently-asked-questions list describes the methodology, which the author feels is deserving of further investigation.

Considering that breast cancer is a very major health risk for women and considering that women in this society wear bras which may tend to decrease lymph flow, this is potentially worthy of your consideration.

How does one do this type of breast massage?
The breasts are soft tissue which can be effectively self-massaged or massaged by someone else.

Gentle-to-moderate kneading, rubbing, and squeezing strokes with the hands are sufficient to induce increased lymph and blood flow to the breast.  The breast can be kneaded and squeezed by contracting the palm and fingers of the hand (somewhat like a handshake) or the breast can be rubbed and stroked using the palm and fingers of the hand using gentle-to-moderate pressure.  It is not necessary to use hard pressure or other techniques which cause pain.    A lotion or massaging oil adds considerably to the pleasure of the experience and helps prevent “rug burn”  sensitivity.

The receiver may find that certain types of strokes are more pleasurable.  The receiver may also prefer certain speeds of movement and pressure.  Accommodating these preferences makes the breast massage feel much better and helps to encourage the regular practice of breast massage.

To drain the lymph fluid from the breast, one useful massage stroke is a  gentle radial outward stroke from the nipple to the outer edge of the breast.  This is done by applying light pressure starting from the center of the breast and making several strokes  from the nipple towards each part of the perimeter of the breast.

The direction of the strokes are like following spokes in a wheel from the center to the edge.  This stroke can be incorporated as part of the massage but should be combined with the other strokes above which help to stimulate lymph and blood circulation.  Think of the radial outward stroke as a specific draining stroke and the other strokes as methods of increasing the fluid flow rate, just as exercising a muscle will increase the flow of blood through the muscle.

Increased blood flow to massaged areas is indicated by a feeling of warmth in the massaged area.  The warmth generally can be felt by both the receiver and the massage giver.   This is a good indicator that the massage is also improving lymph flow.

Women’s breasts vary considerably in texture and sensitivity to pressure.   Hence, gentle strokes for those who are sensitive or have softer breasts.  Moderate pressure may be more effective for those with firmer-textured breasts.

As a part of a pleasurable, sensual massage, the kneading strokes may be combined with softer caressing strokes over the front chest and abdominal region.  This helps relax and give pleasure to the receiver. Stroking and gently pinching the nipples can also be a pleasurable part of a breast massage.  These strokes should be used in combination with the gentle kneading and rubbing strokes above which constitute the principal method of increasing lymph and blood flow.  A breast massage may be combined with a massage of the shoulders and side chest muscles for a more relaxing, revitalizing, and pleasurable experience.

Health Note: As far as possible cancer detection, if during self-massage or giving a massage, any lumps are felt, these lumps should always be investigated thoroughly by informing and visiting a qualified physician.  The practice of breast massage should be in conjunction with (and not a substitute for) regular self-breast exams  and exams/tests during visits to a physician.  If any lump is ever found, that area should NOT be massaged until a physician is consulted.   Repeat: do not massage if any lump is found.

What other benefits may be possible?
Women whose breasts become somewhat enlarged or firmer as a result of the pre-menstrual cycle may experience some breast discomfort.  Such women may find that breast massage makes them feel more comfortable and is a pleasurable experience.

Women who are pregnant or nursing may find that the substantial changes in the quality and sensitivity of their breasts are causing some discomfort.  Such women may be pleasantly surprised to find that a breast massage also improves their comfort and gives pleasure, and makes them feel better about their breasts.   (The massaging of  breasts is already undertaken by many nursing mothers as a part of the nursing process.)

Will I become aroused by receiving a breast massage?

Many women find the stroking of their breasts to be very pleasurable and relaxing.   The positive feelings associated with breast massage help to encourage regular practice.  Some women find touching of the breasts during the massage to be sexually arousing or causing some emotional feelings.  All these feelings are very natural physiological and emotional responses and should not be any cause for concern or embarrassment. Massage in general is a pleasurable, sensual experience in addition to being healthful.

A good breast massage should be gentle and nurturing. The gentle stimulation of the breasts and chest area may release some emotional feelings.  During massage, many people experience joy, peace, or sometimes a release of previously-repressed emotions from past events (positive or negative, including possibly crying) followed by a more deep relaxation. This emotional release is also a very normal, human part of the massage experience. For most women, the enjoyment of  breast massage is a natural, sensual pleasure and very relaxing.

For those who may not wish their breast massage to be as pleasurable or arousing, the type, speed, and pressure of the strokes can be regulated if necessary to control this sensation of pleasure and arousal.   Again, individual preferences and sensitivities vary; for example, some may find firm strokes to be arousing while others may find light caressing to be overly erotic.

How often should my breasts be massaged and for how long?

The previous study involving bras provides  some evidence that  improved lymph fluid flow may be good for your health.

It is hypothesized that toxins tend to accumulate due to reduced lymph fluid flow during the use of a bra during the day. Hence, one good time for having a breast massage is after taking off a bra at the end of a day or during a break in the day.  At such times, a breast massage may be very helpful in stimulating the flow of lymph fluid and blood to remove the accumulated toxins. Some women find bras to be somewhat constricting to their breasts and surrounding musculature or tiresome on the shoulders, which is another reason why a gentle, pleasurable massage after taking off a bra is revitalizing.

This should not be taken to discount the value of having breast massages at other times or less frequently than daily.  The build-up of toxins may be a gradual long-term effect from wearing a bra for too many hours per day.   A breast massage once every few days may be valuable in helping to avoid excess build-up of toxins and is a relaxing, pleasurable experience.

Frequent massages should preferably be administered with some lotion or massage oil to prevent sensitizition of the skin.

When working with a massage giver, a more extended massage experience of 20 minutes or more may be very pleasurable and relaxing as well as beneficial for your health.  This can be received as often as once or more per day,  although even an occasional experience is pleasurable and health-giving. Time constraints of the receiver or massage giver may be the limiting factor in frequency.

Self-massage once or several times a day may be the most convenient method for improving lymph flow daily if a massage giver is not available to give daily massage.   Even if time is short, a few minutes of self-massaging improves the lymph fluid flow for better health and is pleasurable.  An extended session of self-massage for 20 or 30 minutes or more can be administered during a more relaxed time period.  For those who wish, a pleasurable breast massage can be integrated as part of a relaxing, sensual experience such as an extended bath or gentle nap-time/relaxing in bed.

Other references about breast massage and therapeutic massage

One of the methods recommended is breast massage for 5 minutes per breast daily.  Also, recommends nipple stimulation to release oxytocin, a hormone which increases blood flow to thebreasts.

A few women have even experienced some mild to moderate reactions to the amount of accumulated toxins being flushed from the breast tissue during the first days and weeks of breast massage.  The reported reactions to the toxins include  “mild to medium cases of [allergic] hives, increased allergies of the sinuses, headaches, some cramping.” It is recommended to start with shorter periods of breast massage and gradually increasing the massage time if such reactions occur.  The flushing of the toxins is a very good process for the body, but may need to be done gradually if the person experiences reactions to the accumulated toxins being released from the breast tissue. This site discusses the role of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin in controlling blood flow to the breasts and also contains some recommendations for health supplements.

2. Breast Cancer Risk Linked To Red Meat, Study Finds

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 14, 2006; Page A01

Younger women who regularly eat red meat appear to face an increased risk for a common form of breast cancer, according to a large, well-known Harvard study of women’s health.

The study of more than 90,000 women found that the more red meat the women consumed in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the greater their risk for developing breast cancer fueled by hormones in the next 12 years. Those who consumed the most red meat had nearly twice the risk of those who ate red meat infrequently.

Two months after beginning work on the book, “Why We Walk: The Inspirational Journey Toward a Cure for Breast Cancer,” photographer Paula Lerner was diagnosed with breast cancer. The discovery thrust Lerner into a circle of struggling patients and heroic survivors she had sought to chronicle from outside. Here is some of Lerner’s work from 2004.

The study, published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is the first to examine the relationship between consumption of red meat and breast cancer in premenopausal women, and the first to examine the question by type of breast cancer.

Although more research is needed to confirm the association and explore the possible reasons for it, researchers said the findings provide another motivation to limit consumption of red meat, which is already known to increase the risk of colon cancer.

“There are already other reasons to minimize red meat intake,” said Eunyoung Cho, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the study. “This just may give women another good reason.”

Cho added that the findings could be particularly important because the type of breast cancer the study associated with red meat consumption has been increasing. Eating less red meat may help counter that trend.

Other researchers said the findings could offer women one of the few things they can do to reduce their risk for the widely feared malignancy. Breast cancer strikes nearly 213,000 U.S. women each year and kills nearly 41,000, making it the most common cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death among women.

“So many risk factors for breast cancer are things that you can’t alter,” said Nancy E. Davidson, a breast cancer expert at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “This represents something women could take charge of — something you can change to affect your risk.”

Why red meat might increase the risk for breast cancer remains unknown, but previous research has suggested several possible reasons: Substances produced by cooking meat may be carcinogenic, naturally occurring substances in meat may mimic the action of hormones, or growth hormones that farmers feed cows could fuel breast cancer in women who consume meat from the animals.

Researchers have long wondered whether there might be a link between red meat consumption and breast cancer risk, but few studies have addressed the question. Those that have, including one large analysis that pooled data from eight studies, did not find any association. But the earlier studies focused on older women and did not differentiate between types of breast cancer.

In the new study, Cho and her colleagues analyzed data collected from 90,659 female nurses ages 26 to 46 who are participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II, a long-term project examining a host of women’s health issues. As part of the study, participants provided detailed information about their diets every four years.

When the researchers analyzed the data from 1991 to 2003, they found no overall link between red meat consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer. But when they examined the data from only the 512 women who developed the type of breast cancer whose growth is fueled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, they found an association.

The risk increased with the amount of red meat consumed, with those who ate more than 1 1/2servings a day of beef, lamb or pork having nearly double the risk of hormone-receptor-positivebreast cancer compared with those who ate three or fewer servings per week. A serving is roughly equivalent to a single hamburger or hot dog.

“That’s a pretty strong association,” said Cho, who is also an associate professor of epidemiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Two months after beginning work on the book, “Why We Walk: The Inspirational Journey Toward a Cure for Breast Cancer,” photographer Paula Lerner was diagnosed with breast cancer. The discovery thrust Lerner into a circle of struggling patients and heroic survivors she had sought to chronicle from outside. Here is some of Lerner’s work from 2004.

Other researchers praised the study for being well conducted but said more research is needed to confirm and explore the findings.

“The study is well done, and I’m sure it will create some interest to try to replicate the findings,” said Eugenia Calle of the American Cancer Society. “But until that happens, we can’t draw conclusions about whether this is a true association or something that’s just been observed in a single study.”Other experts agreed but noted that the findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence that indicates that diet early in life can affect a person’s health risks later on.

“This suggests that lifestyle, in this case diet, in early adulthood is important in potentially explaining your risk for premenopausal breast cancer,” said Carolina Hinestrosa of the NationalBreast Cancer Coalition.

While it may be premature to make formal dietary recommendations based on the findings, the Nurses’ Health Study II is so well respected that women should take this new analysis into consideration, she said.

But noting that earlier studies reached the opposite conclusion, Randall D. Huffman, vice president for scientific affairs at the American Meat Institute, said that research into “diet and health is known for its fluid and often contradictory conclusions. This study is a perfect example of that.”

“The wisest course of action in the wake of one more contradictory study is to consume the balanced diet recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines,” he said.

3. Potential Link Between Aluminum Salts In Deodorants And Breast Cancer

Chemicals that mimic the body’s natural hormone oestrogen are known to affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Evidence is mounting that the aluminium-based compound, which often makes up quarter of the volume of some antiperspirant agents, can break through the skin and that once in the body it could mimic oestrogen. A review just published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology calls for further research to evaluate the potential that this could increase the risk of getting breast cancer.

Over recent years scientists have found that many compounds in the environment mimic or interfere with oestrogen. These compounds are normally complex molecules and are found in many plants, and used in materials like detergents, pesticides and plastics. Now scientists are realising that a variety of simple metal ions, including aluminium and cadmium can also bind to the body’s oestrogen-receptors and influence their action.

“Since oestrogen is known to be involved in the development and progression of human breastcancer, any components of the environment that have oestrogenic activity and which can enter the human breast could theoretically influence a woman’s risk of breast cancer,” says author of the review Dr Philippa Darbre, who works in the School of Biological Sciences, at the University of Reading, UK.

Aluminium salts in antiperspirants are a major source of exposure to aluminium in humans. It is often sprayed into armpits, inadvertently concentrating exposure near to the breast. In addition, it is often applied immediately after shaving, when the skin is likely to be damaged and less able to keep the aluminium out. “It is reasonable to question whether this aluminium could then influence breast cancer,” says Darbre.

Her concern is not confined to aluminium. Smoking tobacco introduces cadmium into the body, and research shows that it too can collect in breast tissue. There are indications that this accumulation of cadmium may also be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, potentially showing one of the reasons why smoking could be linked to this disease.

“Each of these agents on their own may not have a powerful effect, but we need to see what happens when a number of them act together?” it could be that this would have a significant effect on diseaseslike breast cancer,” says Darbre.

Darbre  P  D.  Metalloestrogens:  An  Emerging  Class  of  Inorganic  Xenoestrogens  with Potential to Add to the Oestrogenic Burden of the Human Breast. Journal of Applied Toxicology 2006; DOI:10.1002/jat.1135

The Journal of Applied Toxicology is devoted to publishing original research, theoretical and literature reviews relating to the toxicity of drugs and chemicals to living systems at the molecular, cellular, tissue and target organ level. This also encompasses teratogenesis, carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, mechanistic toxicology, pharmacokinetics, environmental toxicology and environmental health (including epidemiological studies) in addition to analytical and method development studies. Papers dealing with in vitro techniques and alternatives to the use of animals are encouraged. The journal’s Editor-in-Chief is Dr Harry Salem of the Edgewood Chemical & Biological Center, USA, and Dr Philip Harvey of Covance Laboratories UK Ltd, Harrogate is its European Editor. The journal can be accessed online via Wiley Interscience at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/jat.

What have scientists learned about the relationship between antiperspirants or deodorants and breast cancer?
In 2002, the results of a study looking for a relationship between breast cancer and underarm antiperspirants/deodorants were reported (3). This study did not show any increased risk for breast cancer in women who reported using an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant. The results also showed no increased breast cancer risk for women who reported using a blade (nonelectric) razor and an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant, or for women who reported using an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant within 1 hour of shaving with a blade razor. These conclusions were based on interviews with 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women with no history of breast cancer.

A different study examining the frequency of underarm shaving and antiperspirant/deodorant use among 437 breast cancer survivors was released in 2003 (4). This study found that the age of breast cancer diagnosis was significantly lower in women who used these products and shaved their underarms more frequently. Furthermore, women who began both of these underarm hygiene habits before 16 years of age were diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age than those who began these habits later. While these results suggest that underarm shaving with the use of antiperspirants/deodorants may be related to breast cancer, it does not demonstrate a conclusive link between these underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer. Additional research is needed to investigate this relationship and other factors that may be involved.

Other research has focused on certain preservatives (parabens) that are used in deodorants and antiperspirants, as well as many cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical products. Parabens have been shown to mimic the activity of estrogen (a hormone) in the body’s cells (5). Because estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the use of deodorants or antiperspirants could cause the accumulation of parabens in breast tissues, which may contribute to the development of breast cancer. This hypothesis was supported by a 2004 study that found parabens within 18 of 20 samples of tissue from human breast tumors (6). However, this study did not prove that parabens cause breast tumors (5). The authors of this study did not analyze healthy breast tissue or tissues from other areas of the body, and did not demonstrate that parabens are found only in cancerous breast tissue (6). Furthermore, this research did not identify the source of the parabens, and cannot establish that the accumulation of parabens is due to the use of deodorants or antiperspirants. More research is needed to specifically assess whether the use of deodorants or antiperspirants can cause the accumulation of parabens in breast tissue, and whether these chemicals can promote the development of breast cancer.

4. Light at Night and Risk of Breast Cancer

Light at night and working the graveyard shift linked to increased risk of breast cancer

SEATTLE – Oct. 16, 2001 – Women who work the graveyard shift may face an up to 60 percent increased risk of breast cancer, according to a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study.

Results of the study, the first population-based investigation of the relationship between breast-cancer risk and exposure to light at night as determined by sleep habits, bedroom lighting and graveyard-shift work, will be published tomorrow in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The NCI funded the study.

Led by Scott Davis, Ph.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, the study is one of two independent investigations to be published in tomorrow’s JNCI that conclude sleep interruption, especially among women who work the night shift, is linked to a significant increase in breast-cancer risk.

“Although there have been a number of studies looking at the health effects of night-shift work, from heart disease to stomach ailments, this is the first that has looked comprehensively at both graveyard-shift work and light at night as independent risk factors for breast cancer,” Davis said.

The study involved in-person interviews with more than 800 Seattle-area women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as a similar number of age-matched control subjects. The study assessed exposure to light at night and history of shift work, among other factors, during the 10 years prior to breast-cancer diagnosis.

Davis and colleagues found that women who worked the graveyard shift at least once during the decade before breast-cancer diagnosis were at approximately 60 percent increased risk for breast cancer compared with those who did not work the graveyard shift. In addition, the risk of breast cancer significantly increased with each additional hour per week of graveyard-shift work.

The link between sleep, light at night and breast cancer may involve melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland. Production of melatonin peaks at night during sleep. One theory is that nighttime sleep deprivation or exposure to light at night somehow interrupts melatonin production, which in turn stimulates the ovaries to kick out extra estrogen – a known hormonal promoter of breast cancer.

Indirect support of the melatonin/breast cancer connection comes from an earlier study of blind women, who were found to have a 20 percent to 50 percent reduced risk of breast cancer as compared to a comparison group of women diagnosed with stroke and cardiovascular disease. The theory behind this reduced risk: Because blind women are immune to fluctuations in light, their melatonin levels remain constant, which also keeps their circulating estrogen levels in check.

Davis and colleagues found that breast-cancer risk was associated with the number of years of shift work and the number of hours per week of working the graveyard shift. For example, women who logged at least four and a half years of frequent night-shift work – during which they were awake at least three nights per week between 1 and 2 a.m., when nocturnal melatonin levels are typically at their peak – experienced a twofold increased risk of breast cancer. Similarly, cancer risk increased by 14 percent for each night per week of wakefulness during this crucial time period.

There was also some indication – although not statistically significant – of increased breast-cancerrisk among the women who had the brightest bedrooms. The degree of ambient bedroom light was based on self-reported recall, such as whether the room was so dark a woman could not see her hand in front of her face or whether she could see to the end of her bed. There was, however, no increased cancer risk associated with getting up at night and turning on a light, such as when using the bathroom.


About the author

Robin Murphy

Robin Murphy

Dr. Robin Murphy studied at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) where he was awarded the Hahnemann Scholarship. While at the school he studied with Dr. Ravi Sahni and Dr. John Bastyr. He directed the homeopathy program at NCNM from 1980-1984 and also taught at Bastyr University. He published the Homeopathic Medical Repertory in 1993 which is now in its 3rd edition and the Lotus Materia Medica in 1996 which has been updated three times and is currently titled Nature's Materia Medica. He is currently the director of the Lotus Health Institute, a health education, publishing and research organization dedicated to the promotion of Clinical Homeopathy and Prana Medicine. Dr. Murphy sponsors seminars around the world and has produced over eighty books, audio tapes and papers ranging from M.M., Repertory and Organon studies, to Ancient Biological Cycles, Egyptian Medicine, Herbal Alchemy and Qi Gong. Visit www.LotusHealthInstitute.com for more information on Dr. Murphy and his Clinical Homeopathy Certificate Course.


  • I’m most interested in this article about Bicarbonate of Soda as an effective treatment for cancer. Could this be administered topically for skin cancer? Can you possibly suggest a solution/frequency that might be effective? I’m eager to try this for a member of my family. Thank you

  • Dr. Robin Murphy,
    Most interesting on article on bicarbonate of soda. The logic and reasoning is so simple yet believable. How I wish I had this knowledge when my wife suffered from breast cancer. Thank you Dr. Murphy.

  • Dear Dr. Robin Murphy,
    Thank you for so wide insight about the causes of breast cancer. Considering the massage, I think that it can be very helpful, esp. if done by a professional therapist! It is not a simple thing, the breasts are very special organs, plus, very sensitive! The whole my working stage I taught pts how to make self-check and to avoid physical trauma – one of the theories about the breast Ca was/is trauma. Therefore I’m a little skeptic about doing massage of the breast for people who are not well trained. The person who can do massage of the breast, I think must past good theoretical and practical education, first to work under mentorship, and after certain time, to start doing it alone. Which method of massage to apply? I think the best one is Ayurvedic masage, the best if the receiver can afford it, for the whole body, if not, partially, the upper part of the body (the head, neck, shoulders, arms and chest +/- abdomen & back and or the legs). Sincerely, Milena Ilievska-Arsova, MD and Homeopath.

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