How Exercise Can Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

Regular exercise is known to lower a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. This has been well documented in a number of studies, but the way in which exercise provides protection has not been clearly understood. Exciting new research released last week has revealed how exercise can guard against breast cancer: vigorous exercise has a positive effect on how estrogen is broken down (metabolized) in the body.

It is estimated that about 80 percent of breast cancer tumours are estrogen-dependent, meaning they require estrogen to grow. Certain estrogen metabolites, or breakdown products, can speed tumour growth, while others are relatively benign and possibly protective.

In this new study, researchers recruited more than 300 healthy, yet sedentary (in active), women from 18 to 35 years old. Roughly half of them were randomly assigned to a vigorous exercise program of 30 minutes a day for five days a week. The remaining women served as a control group and continued with their sedentary lifestyle. Urine samples were collected from the participants so researchers could measure levels of estrogen and estrogen metabolites.

The researchers looked at the ratio of two specific metabolites: 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) and 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone (16-alpha-OHE1). The metabolite 2-OHE1 is relatively benign with a weak estrogen effect while 16-alpha-OHE1 is considered potentially carcinogenic. Several previous studies have found that as urinary levels of 2-OHE1 increase and levels of 16-alpha-OHE1 decrease, the risk for breast cancer decreases. The ratio of these metabolites, 2OHE1 to 16-alpha-OHE1, is known as the estrogen metabolite ratio (EMR).

After four months, the women in the vigorous exercise group had a much more favourable ratio of these two metabolites than the sedentary participants, according to the study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

This study adds to the body of evidence supporting the value of strategies that can improve a woman’s EMR. A previous study conducted on femMED’s Breast Health formula found that use of this supplement for a month period of time had a positive effect on EMR. This was the first time a supplement had been studied for its potential protective effects against the biomarkers associated with breast cancer.


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Skincare + Menopause…How to Care for Your Skin

RENEW Issue 2 is now available for download with purchase of Libido. A sample article that can be found in the new RENEW is the latest from Dr. Jennifer Pearlman,MD, Women’s Health and Wellness. In this article Dr. Pearlman answers our questions about how to best care for our skin in menopause and beyond.


What steps can women in perimenopause/ menopause take to protect their skin?

Estrogen loss in the perimenopausal years contributes to rapid facial aging with marked loss of volume and hydration. Women can counteract these changes by consuming ample purified water, eating a diet rich in anti-‐oxidants, and taking extra vitamin D3 in the form of a supplement. Skin care regimens should combine anti-‐oxidant and hydrating nutrients without harmful chemicals such as parabens, phalates, and petroleum products. A mineral based broad-‐spectrum sunblock should be applied daily to provide UVA and UVB protection.

Are age spots associated with menopause and what can be done about them?

Hyperpigmentation commonly occurs during periods of hormonal change such as when using oral contraceptives, in pregnancy, and

early in perimenopause. The pigment cells and melanocytes can become activated by the high estrogen levels that precedes menopause. Women may note pigment changes on the face and chest. Other skin changes such as red dots (cherry angiomas) on the chest and skin tags on the underarm and breast area may appear during this time. Hyperpigmentation is best managed with vigilant prevention using mineral based sun blocks. For the treatment of existing hyperpigmentation, consult with a dermatologist.

Why is getting a good night’s sleep especially important for your skin during menopause?

We’ve long accepted the idea that when we are well rested we tend to look healthier. However, new science has now provided evidence that beauty sleep is more than just an expression, its science. Research has shown that sleep-‐deprived people

appear less healthy, less attractive and tired compared with when they are well rested. The good news is that a good night’s sleep won’t cost you a penny! Aim for 8 hours and use natural remedies over sleeping pills to help get you there.

What foods should you include in your diet eat that can help keep your skin healthy?

Eating a diet rich in colourful anti-‐oxidant foods such as carrots, berries and kale can lead to better skin tone and texture. The anti-‐ oxidant power of these foods helps protect the skin from age-‐related deterioration, and the B vitamins help support cell turnover and collagen synthesis for improved skin tone and firmness. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as wild salmon, chia seeds and almonds can help maintain a more youthful complexion and have been shown to help reduce age and sun induced deterioration.

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Surviving Wedding Season

It’s spring time, and we all know what that means, wedding season! That’s right. It’s time to inventory your party dresses and revamp your shoe collection. You’re on the wedding circuit this summer!

The ceremony will be beautiful and the reception venue amazing, the only question is, how are you going to survive the dinner? Here are a few strategies we found helpful when faced with the dilemma of eating healthy while still having fun at a wedding.

  1. Control yourself during cocktail hour. There will a bounty of cater waiters tempting you with cocktail shrimp and mini quiches. Resist. Keep in mind there will be a full dinner service later in the night.
  2. Have a buffet table strategy. If you’re faced with eating from the buffet table know your portion sizes. Keep them small and be picky about what you select. Use the salad plate instead of the dinner plate if it helps. It’s a wedding, so it’s important to enjoy yourself, but you don’t want to go off the rails with your diet. If you’re tempted to have seconds wait 20 minutes (the length of time it takes your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full) and have a glass of water and relax.  You might find the desire for that second helping disappears. Don’t forget that dessert is on its way.
  3. Cheers to the happy couple. If you’re going to drink alcohol at the wedding, that’s fine. Who doesn’t love a nice glass of wine, but you need to be smart about how much you drink. The calories in wine, beer and mixed drinks can really add up. If you find you’re the kind of person who needs to be holding a drink the entire time, try rotating a glass of alcohol with a glass of water or soda.
  4.  Avoidance.  This is going to be key to keeping your wedding meal fat free. Stay away from cream sauces and soups, starchy foods and anything that has been deep fried. If you’re a soda-holic opt for the diet version and skip the croutons on your salad. Every little bit helps.
  5. Partners in Crime.  These days dessert is a serious statement at weddings. Many couples offer more than just the standard wedding cake. Find a dessert buddy and share your portions. That way you can try a little of everything while not gorging on sugary sweets. You’ll both walk away satisfied and guilt free.
  6. Next day detox. If you did throw your diet rules out the window, be smart about what you eat the next day. Keep it as healthy and clean as possible. Drink plenty of water, take a multivitamin and eat whole wheat’s, veggies and fruits. Try to get a work out in or if that’s not possible take an extra-long walk.

Now go and enjoy yourself on your friend big day!

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What is Your Sleep Style?

One of the most important items in getting a good night’s sleep is choosing the correct pillow.

Pillows come in all different shapes, sizes and materials, however, a pillow should always be the correct height to keep your head level with your spine. Knowing your sleep position will determine what type of pillow you should choose.

Back Sleeper

If you sleep on your back, you are best to choose a pillow that is not too firm or too high since this will raise up your head and neck too far resulting in neck pain. Ideally, your head should be level with your upper back and spine.

Side Sleeper

If you sleep on your side, which the majority of people do, your pillow should conform to the shape of your neck to and should be high enough to keep your head aligned with your spine.

Stomach Sleeper

Stomach sleepers should choose the slimmest pillow possible or no pillow at all, since stomach sleepers can run the risk of hyper-extending their neck.

A physical condition may also dictate an extra pillow be used.  The Canadian Chiropractic Association suggest for people who suffer from  lower-back pain, a pillow placed under the knees if you sleep on your back or  in between her knees if you sleep on your side will further help to support the spine.


Pillows can be made from feathers, down, polyester fibre, memory foam or organic products such as buckwheat hulls. If you suffer from allergies, in particular dust mites, you should consider a hypoallergenic material such as those made with polyester fibre or polyurethane.  If you suffer from dust mite allergies, you can buy special mite-proof covers for both your pillows and mattress, since these are both locations that dust mites take up residence. The new mite covers are soft the touch, yet provide a complete barrier between you and the dust mites.

If you suffer from asthma, recent studies have indicated that both feather and cotton pillows are better than synthetic pillows in controlling dust mite populations. This may be in part due to the tight weave used on these pillows that create a barrier much like the barrier created by the new mite covers.

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Women Who Have Trouble Sleeping May Pack on the Pounds

A study that tracked 68,183 middle-aged women for a period of 16 years found that compared to women who slept 7 hours per night, women who slept for 5 hours per night were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain (an increase of 33 pounds or more) and 15% were more likely to become obese. Women who slept for 6 hours were 12% more likely to have major weight gain and 6% more likely to become obese.

Another study by Finnish researchers that followed more than 7,300 40-60 year olds between 2000-2002 for seven years found was that women who reported they had trouble falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep on at least 14 nights gained weight verus those women who didn’t. At the outset of the study 20% of women reported to having frequent sleep problems and those same women also reported a major weight gain of 11 pounds or more by the studies end.

The most recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, Minnesota Obesity Center and the Mayo Clinic provides a glimpse into the reason why weright gain and lack of sleep may by linked. The study followed 17 healthy young men and women for eight nights with half of the participants sleeping normally and the other half sleeping only 2/3 of their normal sleep time. Both groups were allowed to eat whatever they wished during the experiment.

What researchers discovered was that the group that slept 1 hour and twenty minutes less than the control group consumed 549 additonal calories per day. Researchers also found that the amount of energy used wasn’t significantly different between the 2 groups, suggesting that those who slept 1 hour and twenty miniutes less didn’t burn additional calories.

The focus of the study was to determine whether lack of sleep affected hormone levels of leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you that you are full and to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have LESS leptin. Gherlin is the hormone that tells your body that it is hungry and when you are sleep deprived you have MORE gherlin. More gherlin + less leptin =weight gain.

Even though this was a small study it’s implications are large, especially for people who don’t make sleep a priority or for those people who expereince difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Read some tips here for getting a good nights sleep.

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