HEALTH + WELLNESS

BOOB TALK, WITH DAYLE LARTER

Owner of Nuni Wellness (Breast and Scar Care), Dayle Larter is a boob loving genius. A carrier of the BRCA2 gene mutation, she underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction to reduce risk of breast cancer. From here, Dayle’s mission has been to inspire women to understand, love, touch, and keep a close eye on their boobs. Did you know our lady lumps love sleep and exercise? And that regular boob massages actually decrease sensitivity (especially around menstruation)? We didn’t! In support of Breast Cancer Month, we chat the good, the bad and the lovely about our boobs.

M+E: What is your relationship with breast cancer?

DL: I carry the BRCA2 gene mutation, not so comfortingly referred to as the ‘breast cancer gene’; holding with it up to 80% chance of developing the disease. My grandmother on my Dad’s side passed it down to him, and then him onto me. A few years ago, after breastfeeding my second baby, I decided to undergo a risk-reduction double mastectomy and reconstruction. Even though it was a really confronting and scary time finding out that I had a predisposition to breast cancer, I truly feel blessed that I was given prior warning, and therefore had the luxury of taking preventative measures early. I realised that while I don’t have my boobs, I want to help other women keep theirs happy and heathy, so two years after my surgery I launched Nuni.

M+E: Nuni has built a unique and much needed modern platform for education around breast cancer and the importance of regular check ups (at home and the GP). Why did you feel it was important to create Nuni and what are your main objectives?

DL: In a nutshell, I’m determined to make breast wellness a thing! After my own experiences, I realised that someone needed to meet the rising need for a natural breast care range, inspiring women to be proactive about preventative health and breast wellness – and it might as well be me!

M+E: The platform is raw, real and refreshing in its communicative style – tell us more about your decision/strategy around this.

DL: Thank you! I truly believe Nuni is for all women, so it was important to create a platform modern yet relevant and sympathetic to more mature ladies. I’m a big fan of infusing light heartedness and a little humour into our brand, too – breast wellness needn’t be discussed in a clinical, sterile fashion. And overall, our message is a positive one, not one of doom and gloom. I truly believe that if we can make the idea of breast care enjoyable, we can quite literally have a positive impact on statistics!

M+E: What are some of the greatest misconceptions shared around breast cancer, its causes and preventative measures?

DL: There are so many misconceptions, so we have a big job ahead of us! The main misconception, and one that I had previously also believed, is that breast cancer is a disease of the ageing – that it’s something only older women get. This simply isn’t true, in fact cases in women under 40 are increasing. Further to this, survival rates are lower (than in older women).

Due to dense breast tissue, women under 40 aren’t encouraged to undergo regular screening until mammography age, which is currently 50 – 74. This leaves women who are still ‘at risk’ with no, real screening measures to turn to, other than their own hands! Self-massage and more thorough self-checks improve breast wellness and connection while increasing self-awareness.

Another misconception is that all lumps are bad. It’s worth pointing out that 9 out of 10 lumps are innocent in their nature, and this fact is really important because I think for a lot of women, the fear of finding ANY lump is enough to turn them off touching their boobs at all!

The other main misconception is that breast cancer mainly impacts women with the ‘breast cancer gene’ which is either BRCA1 or BRCA2. This is just not the case, in fact less than 10% of breast cancer diagnoses are due to a genetic fault, meaning that around 90% of cases occur in women with little or no family history, and without any ‘reason’.

DAYLE LARTER

“Breast checks don’t need to feel like a search and destroy mission - this is preventative care, and should be an enjoyable part of our self-care routines! We suggest a two-pronged approach - checking them monthly but touching them daily. Getting handsy for five minutes per breast, at least 3-4 times a week does wonders for keeping the skin nourished, lymph pumping, fresh blood supply flowing, and breast tenderness at bay.”

M+E: Talk us through the most effective at home breast check (and how often we should practice this ritual at home)?

DL: Firstly, I think it’s important that we start to consider this type of care as a ‘ritual’ like you said, rather than a chore. Breast checks don’t need to feel like a search and destroy mission – this is preventative care, and should be an enjoyable part of our self-care routines! We suggest a two-pronged approach – checking them monthly but touching them daily. Getting handsy for five minutes per breast, at least 3-4 times a week does wonders for keeping the skin nourished, lymph pumping, fresh blood supply flowing, and breast tenderness at bay. We then recommend a little more time once a month to conduct a more thorough check of the breasts and surrounding tissue. You can follow this routine, and then repeat the steps lying on your back.

  1. Apply Boob Oil (or carrier oil of choice) to the palm of your hand, or directly onto breast area. Lift one arm up overhead and take the opposite hand to the outer chest where it connects to the armpit and shoulder area.
  2. Massage the lymphatic area of the upper chest and inner armpit with gentle squeezing motions towards the armpit. Now place your arm down by your side or on your hip.
  3. Making your thumb and middle finger into a “V” shape, using the same squeezing motions, work gently from the outer breast to the nipple, changing hand position to access the under-boob and inner parts of breast.
  4. Mix things up with some gentle fingertip circles. Starting at the outside of your breast, spiral your way around your boob until you come to the nipple (give it a little squeeze) and then reverse the movement, spiralling back, out towards your armpit.
  5. Moving above the breast now, massage under your collarbone and across chest area in tiny circles with your fingertips, then move up towards the neck, the sides of the throat and up to the base of the ear.
  6. Repeat steps on the other side. Finish by cupping your hands over your nose and taking a couple of deep breaths, enjoying the heavenly scent.

Lastly, don’t panic if you feel a lump or change, but do be sure to get in touch with your doctor if you have any concerns. Peace of mind is everything!

M+E: Any tips for women with super sensitive breasts who may avoid checks (at home and at the GP) for fear of discomfort?

DL: I can totally relate to this! Not just physically, but emotionally too – sometimes the thought of having a GP (as lovely as they may be) poke and prod around your bosom region is a cringeworthy thought, especially if you’re prone to being sensitive. One of the most effective ways to relieve sensitivity or discomfort is to actually conduct regular breast massage yourself. Moving the lymphatic fluid through the area and encouraging blood flow ensures that you’re eliminating any stagnant build ups that can result in tender spots. It’s amazing (and awesome) how many women contact us to say that since fostering their own boob care ritual they no longer experience sensitivity or tenderness, particularly when it comes to aches and pains at certain points in their cycle. It’s also a brilliant way to alleviate some of the tenderness that goes along with breastfeeding; paying a little extra attention to keeping everything moving can help prevent any nasty complications with blocked milk ducts and the like.

M+E: What are some simple lifestyle shifts we can all make today, to minimise our risk of breast cancer?

 DL: There are so many small, amazing shifts we can make to minimise our risk of breast cancer, and the majority of these changes translate to better overall health and disease prevention, too.

  • Being mindful of what goes in and on your body – minimising toxins and chemicals in our food and skincare wherever possible, including natural perfume. Switching to natural cleaning products.
  • Ditch the plastics – we’re all familiar with the dangers of plastics, and in particular BPA’s. Direct links have been made between breast cancer and endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastics, and in fact these chemicals have been found in tumours. Gradually replace plastics with glass and stainless.
  • Movement – so long as they are strapped in and comfy, our boobs LOVE exercise. There are quite a few studies now that show a significant decrease in the likelihood of breast cancer in women who exercise regularly – and also a decrease in recurrence. The guidelines are 2.5 – 5 hours of moderate activity (walking, yoga) per week, or 1.5 – 2.5 hours of vigorous activity (HIIT, Crossfit, dynamic yoga or Pilates, cardio etc), with some muscle strengthening work twice a week.
  • Sleep and Stress – studies show an increased risk of breast cancer in women who sleep less than six hours per night, with interesting research also showing an elevated risk in women who work night shift (with different sleep patterns to that of our natural circadian rhythm). The key takeout is to aim for 7+ hours of solid sleep every night. Do whatever is needed in order to achieve that –  put devices down an hour or more before bed, consider block-out curtains, have a candlelit bath, listen to a guided bedtime meditation etc.
  • Food! I could talk about this all day – limiting highly processed foods, not overdoing the sugar or trans fats (margarine, hydrogenated oils etc) and then boosting your diet with happy boob foods such as the following anti-cancer powerhouses: ground flax (linseed), blueberries, cruciferous veg (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), dark green leafy veg (spinach + kale), fatty fish or a good quality fish oil or algae supplement), mushrooms, green tea etc.
  • Limit alcohol. As someone who’s quite partial to a Friday cocktail or two, I know this is bound to be a point of contention, but it does need to be mentioned. Alcohol and its connection to breast cancer has been very well studied, and the results are confronting for anyone partial to a tipple.
  • Lastly, breast massage! The body’s lymphatic system is highly concentrated in the underarm and chest regions. According to the Texas Institute of Functional Medicines, breast massage is a reliable means of flushing out toxins from the body’s lymphatic system. Because toxins impede healthy circulation in the breasts, toxic build-up could account for an increased chance of developing cancer. Breast massage can stimulate drainage of the breasts’ lymphatic system, which eliminates harmful waste products and allows nutrient-rich blood to travel to the breast tissue. So, taking off your bra and massaging your boobs at the end of the day is an ideal way to keep things moving. Regular breast massage, coupled with monthly self-breast examinations, is the perfect way to check in with your breasts for changes or irregularities.

M+E: Can you share some most recent statistics around breast cancer?

DL: The current statistics show that that 1 in 7 Australian women will contract breast cancer in their lifetime, with 55 women being diagnosed each day. It’s actually the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. While we are seeing better survival rates than ever before, unfortunately cases are still on the rise – incidents have increased by 38% in the last 10 years alone.

The really positive news is that The World Cancer Research Foundation estimate around 40% of breast cancers could be prevented with some simple lifestyle steps including regular exercise, increasing fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight. That’s more than a THIRD of all breast cancers!

What we also know is that early detection provides the best outcomes in terms of survival. The earlier an abnormality is discovered, the greater the number of effective treatment options there are available. So, there’s just no excuse to not get handsy!

M+E: The Nuni Boob Oil is a brilliant product designed to encourage daily breast checks and enhance the appearance, tone and texture of breasts (among so many other things). Tell us more about the product, its star ingredients and how they are sourced sustainably

Boob Oil is a totally natural breast care elixir designed for daily use and made in small batches in Byron Bay.

While it can be used on other parts of the body, it has been created to complement breast massage when conducting a more thorough self-check each month. The botanical oils used in the formula have been carefully chosen not only for their skin nourishing merits, but for their deeper healing properties.

From an aromatherapeutic side, the oils used are also known for their ability to calm nerves and anxiety.

Our other hero product is our Scar Serum, a completely natural corrective treatment developed to address surgical scars and effective on (scarring from) cuts, burns, injuries, blemishes and stretch marks. I developed this after being left with some hefty under-boob scars following my mastectomy. The formulation is made up of organic rosehip oil rich in essential fatty acids and proven to be effective in the regeneration and repair of damaged skin tissue. Next, castor oil (to encourage deep absorption of actives), and pure essential oils with potent skin rejuvenating properties. Together combined for a formulation that can help lighten and smooth the appearance of scarring; soothe and restore the skin, naturally.

We are committed to sourcing the highest quality raw ingredients and our plant and flower oils can all be traced back to the growers, who use totally natural processes. We use Australian grown ingredients where possible, and also source the most coveted oils from their indigenous areas – this ensures the potency and efficacy of the oil is at its highest. In terms of sustainability, we have worked hard to minimise any plastic – the bottles although not 100% plastic free are glass, and our outer packaging is recycled cardboard that we hope is repurposed long after the purchase is made.

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