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The Brassiere and Breast Cancer: A Holistic View
C 1999-2005, Peter G. Tocci, BA. MT

Cancer incidence has reached a level (more than a half million deaths annually) that makes it virtually cliché to use the term epidemic. Breast cancer affects one in seven women, and the brassiere can play a major role in this potentially devastating affliction. Wearing this undergarment is considered a necessity by most women, yet is primarily a habit (and a dangerous one) virtually forced upon women by convention and social pressure.

Before addressing the involvement of the brassiere in breast cancer, it will be helpful to consider the general definition of a disease. The prevailing definition arises, obviously, from the dominating cultural influence of conventional medicine. A disease is defined medically as impairment of the normal state that interrupts or modifies vital functions, and is a response to a particular influence (cause).

The disease is defined as, or by, the visible, felt and/or diagnosed changes, which are given a specific name. The genuinely Holistic view, however, regards the named disease (and in some cases even the 'cause' of it—as in infectious illness, for example) as symptom. A related collection of symptoms is called a symptomology, and arises from an underlying condition (or collection thereof) called imbalance. Only the imbalance is specific, whereas the named disease is not. This is because any number of so-called diseases can arise from the same specific imbalances.

This may at first seem like a semantics issue, and it would be except for the conventional remedial approach, which is to fight symptom and not address underlying imbalance. This model applies to most 'diseases.'

For example, in the conventional view, cancer is considered to be the bad cell itself—a local condition that spreads. In the Holistic view, it is a symptom whose foundation is a collection of systemic underlying imbalances that expresses locally. The distinction is crucial, because lasting or permanent healing (wellness), cannot be achieved by fascination with, and opposition of, symptoms alone. Such distraction is one basis of the failure of medicine to solve many so-called incurable diseases.

The primary source of confusion between disease and symptom is the germ theory of disease, which was developed in the 19th century. Germ theory posits the invasion of victims by germs. Holistically, this idea is considered dangerously superficial. It has produced two 'cultural epidemics' called the victim/war mentality, and the specific-disease doctrine. Innocent victims are attacked by germs—entities endowed with an almost conscious evil, and these entities cause the specific, named disease.

Germ theory also lends itself to the idea that we must fight wars against the symptoms. One reason cancer seems so threatening is that it stubbornly [and not surprisingly] resists assaults upon its symptoms with the weapons of medical warfare. Also, since the tumor is not the disease, symptoms are likely to re-emerge after the brutalizing course of conventional treatment. The wrong tool can make any job difficult or impossible.

Along with germ theory, the specific-disease doctrine permeated 19th-century medicine and society, and quickly moved beyond its spawning ground of infectious illness to become a paradigm (model) for most categories of symptoms.

The Holistic view also recognizes the fundamental influence of the psyche in health and disease (this is not the same as psychosomatic). Most practitioners feel that the psyche is primary, that imbalance begins there and is disease per se; i.e., dis-ease - one is not at ease with being (whether aware of it or not). The terms bodymind, psychobiology, and psychoneuroimmunology relate to the interconnectedness—oneness, actually—of the psyche and our physicality. What causes this primary disease condition? We could as easily ask why there is Fear. The question ultimately leads to philosophy about the nature of being, and is beyond the scope of this essay.

One important consideration is the spiritual idea that the circumstances and daily events of our lives reflect the condition of our psyche. Fear is a destructive factor itself, especially in cancer and AIDSyndrome. It might be avoided by understanding the basis for the Holistic view that the potential for health or illness is in the individual. Consequently, there is no foreign entity to fight, no war to wage. Nor are there victims. There is only the consequence of balance or imbalance in the being. Unresolved imbalance may ultimately appear as any disease symptom, which will correspond to the individual's psychobiological (mind/body) pattern of strengths and weaknesses.

Once a psychoemotional imbalance is established, and due to the unity of the bodymind, there can be a corresponding, or resulting, physiological disease condition that more directly underlies the symptomology. Physiological disease is imbalance also, but this time in our energy/chemistry system.

Physical symptoms result from the interaction among many factors, including, but not limited to: (1) the quality/quantity of food and the efficiency of digestion; (2) acid/base (pH) balance; (3) the efficiency of detoxification processes and elimination channels; (4) the level and type of toxins in the digestive tract, blood, cells, tissues, and especially, in the body humors (intercellular fluids). It may be challenging for some people to realize that even the most puzzling, tenacious 'diseases' can be the result of toxic overload, but there is substantial evidence for this in the scientific literature, though it is largely ignored in mainstream (mechanistic) medical practice.

In light of the foregoing suggestions, we can turn to the matter of the the brassiere and breast cancer. There exists throughout the body a system of tube-like vessels which are a major component of the lymphatic system. In somewhat oversimplified terms, this is the body's 'janitorial service.' Critical components of immune function, lymphatic vessels help to prevent illness primarily by carrying away metabolic waste and other poisons. Without this janitorial pipeline, metabolism would cease.

On the sides of the upper body are major concentrations of these vessels. The brassiere creates a potentially dangerous restriction by compressing underlying vessels and preventing waste from being carried away efficiently. As a result of the concentration of toxins in lymph vessels and breast tissue, and of the restriction of blood circulation, nutrient inflow to cells is reduced as well. After years of such abuse, a major cellular alteration may take place—cancer. Strong evidence for the restriction is that many lumps found in breast examinations are sacs filled with lymph fluid. Frequently in cancer cases, lymph vessels are deemed malignant or highly contaminated and are surgically removed, further weakening the protective system.

The psyche may play a dual role in bra-related cancer, one being dis-ease, and the other being individual susceptibility to convention and social pressure. For many individuals who become aware of this information and wish to help themselves, going bra-less will remain a considerable source of socially induced stress, and may even be considered impossible. It seems unfortunate that many women may risk illness because society has not yet matured sufficiently to have created a safe and respectful space for them in which to make this choice. As noted, one in seven women will produce this form of cancer.

Certainly, women should consider removing such restrictive garments when feasible, but also when they usually don't consider doing so. There is little doubt that should the role of the bra in breast cancer become widely recognized, the garment industry could and would respond with new designs.

The sports venue already has produced 'halter' and 'tube-top' types of supporters, more like wide wraps, that can put less pressure on the areas in question. Another excellent measure is professional massage therapy on a regular basis, which can include specific techniques for lymphatic drainage. Finally, attention to diet, nutrition, hydration, cleansing, attention to toxic exposure (substances and energies), energy balancing, and stress reduction or some form of meditation are also worth considerations.

Archive of Editorial Letters

Peter G. Tocci is a Holistic wellness consultant and health writer dba Associated Health Services in Leominster, Massachusetts.

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Peter G. Tocci
22 Walker St. #2
Leominster, Mass. USA 01453


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