Breast Cancer awareness month is October. Most of us know somebody who has been afflicted with this horrible disease. Just last month I had two friends tell me they had been diagnosed and I myself had a fearful couple of weeks when I found a lump which thankfully turned out to be a benign cyst. I feel so lucky.

I am a holistic therapist and specialise in helping women balance their hormones naturally. Having cysts myself made me feel a bit of a fraud. How could this be the case? I have spent the past month looking at ways to get rid of my cysts naturally and get my body in balance again. Since moving to the USA I have had endless amounts of niggling stress and know I have taken my foot of the pedal with what I eat. It was a relief when I was told my cysts were benign but it made me step back and look at the way I live my life. I may have escaped this time but are these cysts a warning to me that I need to take better care of myself?

So why are so many women getting breast cancer? Nobody knows for sure but there are many theories.

I believe breast cancer is the result of a number of things but there always seems to be a trend resulting from some deep emotional grief in relation to deeply loved child or partner. A child may have been seriously ill or even died...grief; The inability to conceive...grief; A child may have flown the nest...grief; There may have been terrible upset and disharmony between siblings...nesting conflict. These could also be true of a deep loving relationship with a partner. I am talking in the past tense as the breast illness always seems to surface a while after the event. Almost when the body is healing after the initial grieving process.

So what can be done to protect ourselves from being a victim? After all none of us can predict or prevent this kind of grief if it occurs. I think that the first port of call is to be aware of your stress. This is easier said than done. The stress we are aware of is in the conscious mind and so it is easier to rationalise and deal with it. Unfortunately this accounts for only 5% of our thoughts. The other 95% is not conscious so this means that we have no easy way to access it let alone deal with the stress.

There are many holistic therapies out there that are helpful in removing negative stress locked in the subconsious mind; updating the human computer data base as it were. The one therapy that I have found that seems to be most effective is called Psych-K. I have used this with great success in helping my fertility clients to conceive and it seems to move mountains. But I also have found reflexology and vertical reflexology amazing for hormone balancing and stress release. I don't believe that removing the stress from the subconscious mind is the complete package though. I think that maybe all our body systems are affected especially the immune system, digestive and the endocrine (hormone) system.

So my next port of call would be nutrition. Eating a good well balanced diet. Yawn, yawn...yes we all know it is important but how many people do this well when they are stressed out? 'We are what we eat' is so true. For example eating too much unrefined sugars can play havoc with the body. Hormone balance is thrown out. Blood sugar levels are forced to fluctuate, calcified deposits develop in the organs like the breast, ovaries or liver and hey presto, you start to develop problems like breast cysts or other female related problems.

The other aspect of nutrition is not just what we eat but what goes into our bodies through the skin. Our blood stream can be bombarded with chemicals. Washing powders, air fresheners, toothpaste, cosmetics. The list is endless. But does this really have a detrimental impact on the body?

The skin may be water proof but there is a good reason for this. It is all to do with the molecular weight of the ingredients. Now I am no chemistry expert but from what I have read it appears that if the molecular weight of a substance is small enough it will penetrate the skin and get into the blood stream. Water is too heavy so it won't get through but chemicals like sodium laurel sulphate get through. Apparently it can end up deposited in vital organs. What impact does that have on the body working like a well oiled machine? Phalates which can be found in many perfumes and aerosol antiperspirants are said to be hormone disruptors. There are thousands of other substances in these products that are not compatible with the body. If a substance is harmful for me to eat why would we put it in our bodies through our skin?

Finally one of the best ways to relieve stress is through exercise. It doesn't matter how tired or stressed out I am if I get out for a brisk walk or bike ride I always feel better. It is also a great way to meet people and just saying hello to a passing stranger can be very uplifting. It is also great for keeping your organs working well. It is fantastic for the improving the lymph system and naturally expelling toxins caused by stress, poor diet etc.

Well, I am now taking a closer look at my stress levels and what I put on and in my body. Modern living is very hard. The supermarkets are packed with convenient foods and tempting snacks. So many brands of cosmetics with age defying, miracle answers to beautiful bodies packed with who know what. We are all over loaded with pressures of modern life styles. Don't be the next victim of breast cancer or any other horrible disease. Look at your lifestyle, diet and bathroom cabinet and help yourself now. You only live once...

By Angela Crowne - Holistic Therapist