Breast Healthy Living


How lifestyle choices can help shape your risk of breast cancer. It’s never too early to be proactive.

Breast cancer ranks as the top health concern for women young and old. In Canada, 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Despite this staggering statistic, we have made little progress in advancing our understanding of how to treat never mind prevent breast cancer.

“An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure”.

The lack of progress is in part due to our underestimating the important role that lifestyle plays in shaping a woman’s risk. Eight of every ten women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history. Women living in the US have a greater risk of dying from breast cancer than do women living in Thailand. These facts underscore the important role lifestyle plays in shaping our risk.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

It is never too early to adopt a breast healthy lifestyle. What we choose to eat, drink, and apply to our skin are choices we make everyday. The following guide will help you to take proactive measures to reduce your risk through the decades;

In your Twenties

It’s easier to never start than to stop smoking. Most smokers pick up the habit before their 21st birthday. Starting early and smoking longer are linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. Instead, young women can adopt breast healthy diets adding cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli, bok choy and kale) that enhance estrogen metabolism and reduce health problems caused by hormone imbalance. When we are young it is crucial to limit exposure to environmental hazards such as dioxins in pesticides and mercury in contaminated fish as maturing breast tissue is more vulnerable. We can do this by selecting organic produce (check out the dirty dozen list for the most heavily sprayed crops) and limiting fish intake to three servings a week. While a good diet should be the foundation of health, it may not be enough. From birth, it is recommended that we take the sunshine vitamin (D3) as a supplement as inadequate stores are linked with risk of breast cancer later on.

In your Thirties

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are protective to the breast. Becoming pregnant, especially having a baby before the age of 30 years, and breastfeeding are associated with a lower risk of acquiring breast cancer later in life. Skin and hair care products begin to be used and we must do so wisely. Carefully check labels and avoid those products that contain harmful ingredients such as parabens, hormone disruptors that may be linked to breast cancer.

In your Forties

Body shape changes commonly start at midlife. Being overweight is one of the most important predictors of breast cancer. The diagnosis of breast cancer often follows a stressful life event. In our forties, we face the challenges of aging and ailing parents, children, career and perhaps relationship stress. To prevent the deleterious effects stress can have on our body, we can learn to adopt stress reduction techniques such as meditation.

In your Fifties

The decision of whether or not to start hormone therapy around the time of menopause is an important one that needs to be made in discussion with a qualified medical doctor. There are many factors to consider. Bioidentical estrogen and progesterone when given near the time of menopause have been shown to be safe to the breast. By the age of fifty, it is recommended that women begin to participate in breast cancer screening . While screening is not the same as prevention, it is a powerful tool that has been shown to save lives.

Breast cancer is not one disease but a complicated process that begins with the transformation of healthy breast cells to cancer cells. Our lifestyle, diet and environment may influence this change.

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.


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.

10 weird and wonderful facts about sex

For anyone who has ever found themselves surfing the net at 2:00 in the morning, chances are you stumbled across the site Listverse. I know I have spent hours on this site, which essentially has hundreds if not thousands of different top ten lists on everything from technology to history and yes, even sex.

And just when you think you know everything there is to know about sex, along comes the “Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Sex”.

Did you know that penquins engage in the oldest profession? Yep, you guessed it. There are actually penquin prostitutes that exchange sex for pebbles. And despite the widely held belief that humans are the only species who’s libidos lead to sex for fun…guess again. Read what other species indulge in sex for fun + 8 other little known facts about sex. 


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!