The number of women living with advanced breast cancer is rising substantially in the United States, reflecting improved survival among all ages, according to a study published Thursday.
Read the full article written by Laurie McGinley from The Washington Post
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the key components to a healthy and cancer preventative lifestyle, but, despite the prevalence of health and fitness information, many people find this difficult to achieve. The primary reason for this is that, while basic human physiology is the same, every person is different. We have different body types, different motivations, different preferences, different natural ability, and different methods of learning.
The key is to find what works for you, but don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work. Think of it like trying out a new restaurant. If you like it, you’ll go back. If you don’t like it, you don’t swear off all restaurants, you just don’t go back to that one. When you’re creating a healthy lifestyle routine, don’t get frustrated just because the first things you try don’t work or because you don’t enjoy them. Just try something new!
A Little Direction
While you have to find what works for you, research is the first step. With the right information, you can create a beneficial routine and we want to help!
One of the components of achieving a healthy weight is fat loss and, according to BodyBuilding.Com, there are three key factors to effective fat loss that applies to everyone: 1) Goal Setting; 2) Nutrition; and 3) Exercise. Without all three working in tandem, it will be harder to keep weight lost off.
The first step is to figure out what you want to achieve. This is your long-term goal. Identify where you are now, where you’d like to be, and when you’d like to get there. It is important to be realistic about your goals and the timeframe it will take to meet them. You can’t rush weight loss and good health. There are no shortcuts. For it to be permanent, you have to do it right.
Once your long-term goal is set, you need to set smaller, short-term goals. These will help keep you motivated on the way to your long-term goal.
To make sure this goal-setting works, they need to have several qualities:
— They must be specific.
— They must be measurable.
— They must be adjustable. (If you get the flu and your timeframe gets thrown off, just update it)
— They must be realistic.
— They must be time-based.
Look at Your Diet
Once your goals are set, it’s time to address nutrition. Diet is the most important component to fat loss (80-90 percent) and we’re not talking about fads and trends. Your diet is your eating lifestyle, which you should be able to maintain all year-round. The only thing you should change about it is the amount of calories consumed, based on what your goals are.
Your weight loss diet should include the following six principles:
— Adequacy: Get the amount of energy (calories) and nutrients you need.
— Balance: Don’t overdo it with any specific type of food.
— Energy Control: Know how many calories you need to consume for your energy level and allow for that without going over.
— Nutrient Density: Choose foods that provide the most nutrients for the least energy.
— Moderation: Be aware of and moderate portion sizes. Keep high fat and sugar foods to a minimum.
— Variety: Eat a variety of foods each day.
Time to Exercise!
Exercise helps you to build muscle, which, in turn, helps you burn more calories and lose more fat. It also encourages self-confidence and gives you a way to destress. The best exercise program for losing fat combines cardio (mostly high intensity), weights, and flexibility. There are a variety of factors that must be considered and specified when creating such an exercise plan. These include:
— Frequency: How often you exercise in a given time period.
— Time: How long your exercise sessions last.
— Intensity: The level of exertion of your exercise.
— Type: What form of exercise is being performed.
— Specificity: Performing the specific exercise to achieve your goals.
— Overload: Increasing intensity to increase/improve ability.
— Adaptation: Exercise/training must progress via overload or performance may start to decline.
— Progression: Intensity must become progressively greater.
Can’t I Just Start Running Everyday?
The answer, yes, you can, but it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve your goals with running alone. Taking control of your health is more complicated; while this may be discouraging at first, it is really the only way to do it right. There are a great many factors associated with good health and taking an analytical approach to each of them will help you achieve your greatest potential!
The link between lifestyle and cancer has been long established and government agencies and medical professionals have been trying to encourage healthy choices as a way to significantly lower one’s cancer risk. According to an article published back in 2008 in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes,
…5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity.
The link between cancer and lifestyle is not new, but it’s not the whole story. It is true that the lifestyle choices we make can lower or increase the risk of cancer, but did you know that this does not necessarily apply to EVERY cancer? At least not yet…
Evidence of a Lifestyle Link
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), our risk for many types of cancer correlates to physical activity, diet, and weight, however, for some cancers, it is uncertain whether these three factors play a role. A link to lifestyle may, in fact, exist, but more research is needed to present concrete evidence of it. For the following cancers, there is evidence that choices regarding physical activity, weight, and diet can lower or raise risk:
— Breast Cancer
— Cancers of the Mouth, Pharynx, and Larynx
— Colorectal Cancer
— Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
— Esophageal Cancer
— Gallbladder Cancer
— Kidney Cancer
— Liver Cancer
— Pancreatic Cancer
— Stomach Cancer
— Ovarian Cancer
The Missing Link
While AICR/WCRF reports found evidence connecting the lifestyle factors of diet, physical activity, and weight to the above cancers, they did not find strong evidence of a connection between lifestyle and the below cancers:
— Bladder Cancer
— Cervical Cancer
— Nasopharyngeal Cancer (rare in the U.S., common is Southern China – Cantonese-style salted fish is probably the cause of this cancer)
— Skin Cancer (while excessive sun exposure is directly related to skin cancer, there is no strong evidence to link diet, physical activity, or weight, with the exception of arsenic in drinking water)
Not Enough Evidence… Yet
Unfortunately, evidence was too limited to examine for the following cancers and more research is needed to determine the presence of potential lifestyle links:
— Cancers of the Musculoskeletal System (Myosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, Fibrosarcoma, Liposarcoma)
— Cancers of the Nervous System (Central Nervous System Lymphoma, Spinal Nerve Tumor, Cranial Tumor, Sellar Tumor, Meningoma, Glioblastoma)
— Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s)
— Multiple Myeloma
— Testicular Cancer
— Thyroid Cancer
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the healthier choices you make and the more informed you are of your health risks, the better off you are. At reveal23, we offer inherited cancer risk testing, analyzing up to 94 genes, so that you have all the information you need to take full control of your health. We can help you find out what your DNA is saying about you behind your back so you know exactly what’s going on. Buy your easy-to-use testing kit today! https://reveal23.com/shop/
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2017. Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, and while it is sometimes found after symptoms appear, many women with breast cancer do not exhibit any symptoms, which is why breast cancer screening is important.
Benefits of Early Detection
Breast cancer that is found early is easier to treat successfully and the best way to find it early (should it exist) is to get screening exams regularly. It is also important to perform self breast examinations and pay attention to any changes in the breasts. Any unusual changes should be reported to your doctor right away.
The point of a screening test is to find potential breast cancer before it causes symptoms, like a lump. Once clear symptoms appear, it is much more likely that the cancer is at a more advanced stage and has potentially spread, which makes it harder to treat successfully.
The most common breast cancer screening test used for early detection is a mammogram, which is a low-dose x-ray of the breast that looks for changes in tissue that could indicate breast cancer. There are two types of mammograms, a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram.
A screening mammogram is used to look for breast cancer in women who do not have any breast problems or symptoms. A diagnostic mammogram is a mammogram that is used to look at the breast of a woman who has a breast change or problem.
Mammograms can identify masses and calcifications in breast tissue that could indicate cancer. They can’t actually prove that an abnormal area is cancer, however.
If there is an abnormal finding on a mammogram, a breast ultrasound is often the next step. An ultrasound is useful for looking at a breast change seen on a mammogram, as well as other breast changes, such as those that may be felt but not seen on a mammogram. If a mass is felt or seen on a mammogram, an ultrasound can be used to determine if it is a fluid-filled cyst (not cancer) or a solid mass.
Biopsy and Diagnosis
When a mammogram and breast ultrasound indicate the presence of POTENTIAL cancer, a biopsy is the next step. During a biopsy, which may be done with a needle or an incision, a surgeon removes cells from the suspicious area to determine whether the cells are cancerous.
Whether or not a biopsy confirms a cancer diagnosis, remember that you could get a second opinion. It may mean another biopsy but a second opinion can be helpful when you’re having difficulty with a diagnosis or non-diagnosis.
After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis – Breast MRI Scans
While a screening MRI may be recommended for certain women with a particularly high risk for breast cancer, breast MRIs are typically used for women who have already been diagnosed to help measure the cancer’s size and look for other breast tumors (in the diagnosed breast and in the other). Breast MRI scans are not recommended as a screening test for the average woman because they tend to report more false positives (find something that isn’t actually cancer), which could lead to unneeded tests and biopsies.
Understanding Your Breast Cancer Risk
Some doctors are more aggressive in their breast cancer screening recommendations than others. For a woman with a high risk of breast cancer, this can be very helpful, but perhaps not so much for a woman with a low or average risk. Being well-informed of your own breast cancer risk can help you work with your doctor to set-up an appropriate screening schedule that does not subject you to unnecessary tests. To find out whether you have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer, order our Women’s Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Test today!
It’s flu and cold season, hooray (insert sarcasm)!
Illness has the power to throw a wrench into the gears of our routines, and it is especially dangerous for cancer patients who have compromised immune systems. A simple cold is not so simple when you have cancer. It is important for all of us to help keep our immune systems in tip-top shape and these immune-boosting foods can help!
We can’t praise garlic enough! A relative of the onion, garlic contains allicin, which fights bacteria and infection. In a British study, researchers gave 146 people either garlic extract or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who were given the garlic were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Additionally, other studies have suggested that eating upwards of six garlic cloves per week results in a 30 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a whopping 50 percent reduced risk of stomach cancer. Can’t go wrong with garlic! Unless you’re a vampire…
Probiotics, the “live active cultures” found in yogurt and other cultured dairy products like kefir, are healthy bacteria that keep the intestinal tract and gut free of disease-causing germs. According to a Swedish study of 181 factory workers, those who drank a supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri (a probiotic that seems to stimulate white blood cells) every day over the course of the 80-day study took 33 percent fewer sick days than employees who took a placebo.
According to a Harvard study, people who drank black tea five times per day for two weeks had 10 times the amount of virus-fighting interferon in their blood than those who drank a placebo hot drink, thanks to the amino acid L-theanine.
4. Barley and Oats
An adequate amount of fiber is important for a healthy body and these grains contain a particular type of fiber, beta-glucan, which has antioxidant and antimicrobial capabilities more potent than echinacea.
Shellfish like lobsters, oysters, clams, and crabs are rich in selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokine proteins. These proteins, in turn, help clear flu viruses out of the body. When you do eat shellfish, however, please make sure they are purchased from a reputable source (high-quality grocery store or restaurant). Improperly refrigerated shellfish can lead to food poisoning.
6. Chicken Soup
Yes, the quintessential “I don’t feel well” food, chicken soup has immune-boosting benefits. Cysteine, an amino acid released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine (according to University of Nebraska researchers). Additionally, the salty broth thins mucus much in the same way cough medicines do AND added spices such as garlic (we love garlic!) give the soup even immune-boosting power.
Even a mild zinc deficiency can increase a person’s risk of infection. Zinc is an essential mineral for the development of white blood cells and beef is one of the best sources of it.
According to Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, Director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, D.C., mushrooms increase the activity and production of white blood cells, making them more aggressive.
9. Sweet Potato
Did you know that your skin is one of the first lines of defense against viruses, bacteria, and other undesirable substances? To keep your skin healthy, you need the appropriate amount of vitamin A, which you can get from beta-carotene-containing foods such as sweet potatoes and carrots.
Eating Your Way to Good Health
By maintaining a healthy diet, you will naturally boost your immune system, but it is important to remember that a healthy diet does not necessarily mean an exclusionary one. When you start cutting out certain foods, you cut out the nutrients too, so be careful to find new sources of those nutrients or your health will suffer.
As we covered in last week’s blog post, feelings of distress, such as depression, hopelessness, anxiety, sadness, uncertainty, and fear are common for cancer patients and caregivers, but all is not lost. While having top-notch support system with your medical team and loved ones is important, there are several things that you can do yourself to improve your ability to cope. A positive way to avoid feeling powerless is to take an active role in dealing with the cancer.
We Like To Move It Move It
Exercise is actually a very beneficial coping tactic. Moderate exercise has been shown to help with anxiety, tiredness, blood vessel and heart fitness, muscle strength, and tiredness. By alleviating some treatment side effects and improving strength, a cancer patient may find it easier to undergo treatment. It’s very difficult to start to exercise when you’re feeling tired, as many people feel after treatment, but that’s why it is even more important. Focus on the fact that exercise increases energy and releases endorphins, both of which will make you feel better. You just have to take that first step. We would be remiss if we did not note, however, that any exercise regimen should be cleared with your oncologist before you begin.
But Wait, There’s More
Additional ways that may help you cope with your illness include:
— Use methods that have helped you get through crises or periods of high-stress in the past, whether it’s talking with a friend or an outlet like painting, meditation, or listening to music.
— Take one day at a time. Don’t worry about the future. Focusing on coping “today” without worrying about how you’ll cope tomorrow makes an illness like cancer easier to manage.
— Always ask questions. Being well-informed is important so you know what you can do for your part. Make sure your doctor lets you ask all your questions and is happy to answer all of them.
— Get spiritual, if so inclined. Many cancer patients find support and strength in belief systems they value, even if they are not particularly spiritual or religious.
— Keep detailed records of doctor information, treatment dates, x-rays, lab values, symptoms, scans, medicines, side effects, and any other information related to the cancer. When you give yourself a responsibility, you have a better feeling of purpose. You can also keep a journal as an emotional outlet.
Do NOT Suffer in Silence
Cancer is not one of those things that you should try to deal with alone. Research shows that cancer patients who have a network of support fare better during treatment and have higher survival rates. There’s nothing embarrassing about asking for help or unloading your worries and fears. There’s nothing wrong with being frustrated about the side effects of treatment. Take a leaf out of Madonna’s book and “Express Yourself.” The worst thing you can do when you have cancer is shut people out.
No amount of reading articles or listening to personal experiences can truly prepare a cancer patient for the emotional impact of cancer treatment, but, any and all information that may be offered can benefit, even if just to provide a general roadmap to help patients and caregivers cope with their situations. In this two-part blog series, we’ll be covering the types of emotional side effects of cancer as well as what you, as a cancer patient, can do to take an active role in coping with your illness.
Distress is Normal
When we talk about “distress” here, we are referring to unpleasant feelings such as sadness, fear, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, and powerlessness. Distress is very common and understandable in people with cancer and their loved ones and a certain amount is normal. So much of a cancer patient’s life changes with a cancer diagnosis and but (s)he won’t know how much until it happens. This creates feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and even fear.
“Will I die?”
“What will happen to my kids if I can’t physically take care of them?”
“How long will I have to be under treatment?”
“Am I going to feel sick all the time during treatment?”
After a cancer diagnosis, there’s a bit of a waiting game while a patient’s oncology team determines the best course of treatment and feelings of distress are very common, especially waiting for surgery or that first chemotherapy treatment. Everything about cancer is stressful, including the side effects, such as weight changes, hair loss, fatigue, and disruption to routine, but sometimes it’s a little too much to deal with.
While a level of stress and distress is expected, if it interferes with treatment or if a patient can’t cope, additional support services may help. Having cancer affects your emotional health, and when those effects are debilitating, it is imperative that you get additional support. The American Cancer Society offers a helpful “Do I Need Professional Support” Self-Assessment Questionnaire for Patients to help you figure out whether professional counseling may be beneficial. You can find the questionnaire here: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/emotional-side-effects/distress-checklist-for-patients.html
Additionally, having a trusted cancer care team can be a significant resource for extra support, as is having loved ones that can also take on a support role. As a cancer patient, it is important to remember that you have people that care about you and want to help, but you must always be upfront with how you’re feeling and doing. Once people know how you’re doing, they can provide you with or direct you to the services most suited to your particular circumstances.
Please come back next week for part two of our blog series, where we will be discussing ways you, as a cancer patient (or caregiver) can cope with cancer.
Do you have any health nuts on your gift list? Or aspiring health nuts? Any fitness fanatics? If you do, and if you haven’t decided what to get them for the holidays, we can help! And these gifts aren’t just for health nuts. Anyone who leads or who wants to lead a healthy lifestyle would appreciate any of these gifts. Take a gander and hopefully something catches your eye, or at least gives you an idea, for a loved one on your gift list.
For the Fitness Fiend
— Yoga mat & carrier/bag (depending on your budget, we recommend Manduka yoga mats)
— Boxing gloves with a gift certificate for a few boxing classes
— For that matter… a gift certificate for a full session of cycling or other fitness class near them
— Gym bag
— Dumbbell set
— Fitness tracker
— Workout outfit (top and pants), because just one or the other would be incomplete
— All weather adventure/workout clothes for the hiker in the family
— Running shoes
— Running cap and/or sunglasses
For the Health-Conscious Home Cook
— A gift card to Whole Foods, Lassen’s, or other gourmet/natural foods store
— Cookbook: Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater
— Indoor herb planters and seeds
— Variety pack of raw nuts and seeds
— Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap and Hand Soap
— Variety pack of organic, unbleached flours
— Green tea
— A fruit tree (assuming you know they have room in their yard)
For the Busy Bee or Workaholic
— Pair of dumbbells that can be kept under a desk or in the car
— Resistance bands to be kept in the desk drawer
— KIND protein bars
— PRO BAR meal bars
— Lori Harder’s Busy Girl Cookbook
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) encourages everyone to follow certain recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, which can help prevent the development of cancer (and other disease). But how much does following those recommendations actually help?
Lifestyle and Colorectal Cancer Risk
While we don’t have statistical evidence for every type of cancer, we can give you an answer with regard to colorectal cancer. A recent study, published in late October of this year in Cancer Causes & Control, reveals that the more AICR Recommendations were followed, the lower the risk. One of AICR’s recommendations that is most strongly linked to reduced colorectal cancer risk, for both men and women, is cutting processed meat, but, ultimately, the more healthy recommendations followed, the lower the risk.
In the recent study, researchers analyzed data from 67,000 participants of the VITamins And Lifestyle Study. Participants, aged 50 to 76 years, were cancer-free and answered particular questions about their diet, weight, and other lifestyle habits, at the beginning of the study. The study scored whether each participant met AICR’s Recommendations regarding physical activity, body weight, alcohol, plant foods, energy density, and processed and red meat.
Fast Forward 8 Years…
Approximately eight years later, 546 of the 67,000 participants had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. While taking BMI and other recognized risk factors into account, it was determined that meeting one to three of AICR’s Recommendations lowered risk by a little more than one third. Meeting four to six of the recommendations lowered risk by around half. With these numbers, we expect if participants followed all 10 AICR Cancer Prevention Recommendations, their risk of developing colorectal cancer would be drastically reduced.
In this particular study, the recommendations that were most strongly associated with reduced colorectal cancer risk for men were red and processed meat and alcohol; for women, body weight and, like men, red and processed meat.
There’s A Lot You Can Do
We underestimate how much we can actually do to safeguard our health. Leading a healthy lifestyle is the only way to have a vibrant, full life. Being aware of risk factors is also important. Inherited cancer risk factors do exist for some people but knowing that they’re there can help us make the necessary preventative choices to stay strong and healthy.
The most wonderful time of the year is upon us and we’re gearing up for joyous celebrations, spending time with those we love, and gift-giving, but it may be tough getting excited about the holidays when your and your family have more serious issues on their minds. Being a cancer patient during the holidays means that you and your family may not necessarily be able to continue the same traditions or participate in the same events that you used to, but we are here to reassure you that this does not mean you won’t enjoy the holidays. Instead of focusing on how this year won’t be the same as the years before, focus on how you can adapt this year’s festivities to make sure you have the opportunities to get into the holiday spirit.
Tips to Make The Most of the Holiday Season
There are several organizations out there that want to help cancer patients and their families find joy during the holiday season, including CancerCare and the American Cancer Society, both of whom have put together a list of tips and suggestions that can help those living with cancer during the holidays get into the holiday spirit. We wanted to pass on this helpful information because everyone, especially those enduring hardship, deserves to experience the love and joy of the holiday season…
— Don’t shop ‘til you drop and stick to a budget. Do as much online shopping as possible and get creative. A framed piece of nostalgia could mean more to someone than the latest electronics. Remember that buying things will not make up for any negative feelings you are having.
— Learn to say no. You don’t have to participate in everything. People will understand if you can’t do certain activities.
— Enlist support for organizing holiday gatherings, meal preparation, and cleanup. Don’t pressure yourself with unrealistic expectations or try to do everything yourself.
— Express your feelings in ways that help you receive the support of the important people in your life. Sharing can be comforting. It is common to experience a mixture of anticipation, excitement and apprehension about the future. Give yourself permission to feel and express your feelings, whether of joy, fear, sadness, or pain. Let yourself laugh or cry.
— Take care of yourself: Eat balanced meals, drink in moderation, and try to make time for some physical activity, which is a good way to relieve stress. Get plenty of sleep. Don’t abandon healthy habits.
— Allow yourself simple pleasures that will help lift your spirits, such as reading outside, hot baths, and naps.
— Prepare for the holidays. Create a list of the usual traditions and events and decide if you want to continue certain traditions or create new ones. Plan how you want to spend your time, with whom, and for how long.
— Don’t overindulge in alcohol. Because alcohol is a depressant, it can “bring out” or heighten bad feelings.
— Find distractions like going out to dinner or a movie or playing board games or cards with friends.
— Don’t try to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
— Make plans to get together with friends, family or co-workers over the holidays. Trying to celebrate alone can be very difficult. Find the right balance between celebrating with family and friends and spending the time you may need on your own.
— Talk to your health care team about upcoming special events. They may be flexible about appointments in order to accommodate travel or other needs.
— Celebrate strengths you and your loved ones have developed. Many families who face the day-to-day challenges of cancer discover strengths and courage they didn’t know they had. Reflect on the strengths you have developed, and build on them during the holidays.