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.

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“Debulking The Bulk”

In celebration of working hard throughout December and most of January (there was a little falling off the wagon over the holidays, but we all need treats now and then), I decided to hit up my favourite shops to see what’s coming for spring. Yes, I know thinking about spring now seem a little premature but February will fly by and then it’s March, which equals SPRING to me!

Adding even more to my springtime optimism is the realization that I have lost weight!

How? By eating right and exercising regularly, even though there were days I didn’t want to leave the couch. I know this is logical, but it’s just so very, very, very nice to start seeing the results of all the hard work I have put into getting back into shape. Since I often don’t pay attention to the scale, I generally go by how I feel, the changes in my appearance, and how my clothes fit.

There is absolutely nothing more satisfying then trying on a pair of jeans and needing to ask the sales clerk to get you a smaller size.  So feeling totally inspired when I got home, I decided to get rid of all the clothes that didn’t fit me anymore, that were too BIG or I hadn’t worn in over a year.

Being the clotheshorse that I am, I had to contend with the two storage containers under my bed, a dresser and two closets filled to the brim with clothes.  By the end of the night and after a mini fashion show of grievous fashion trend no-no’s (that all seemed so right at the time), I was left with three very large shopping bags filled with jeans, sweaters, shirts, scarves, shoes and a jacket. What’s better still is that in the process of getting rid of the clothes that didn’t fit, I was able to de-clutter and reorganize everything else.

Eventually, I walked all three bags to my Salvation Army drop box feeling great. Not to mention that I now have room for some new spring clothes!

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Eat it!

Developing smart eating habits is an important part of losing the weight and keeping it off. These don’t have to have to be dramatic changes especially if you’re just starting out.

Start substituting different foods in for your usual favourites. Switch your regular pasta for a whole wheat version and find a simple recipe for a great sauce.  Reach for the milk and honey instead of the cream and sugar for your coffee.  Read up on your favourite flavours and find out some of the health and weight loss benefits that they might have!

There are tonnes of great cookbooks, websites and weight loss programs available that focus on healthy recipes for weight loss. They often have the serving portions broken down by calories so you know how large each meal is and how much is appropriate to eat in a sitting. If cooking is a foreign experience for you, try a health focused cooking class. Bring some friends along and make a night out of it.

Another really simple tip to eating healthy is to bring your meals with you, even if it’s just a small container of granola at your desk or a piece of fruit that lives in your purse. When you start feeling those hunger pains you already have your healthy snack on hand.

Start bringing your lunch to work. Just make sure you give your lunches enough thought ahead of time or you’ll just end up buying something unhealthy on the go.  The trick is to make meals in bulk and keep them divided in containers in calorie appropriate portions in your fridge or cupboards. That way you can just grab and go in the mornings.

If you need some motivation to switch over to homemade healthy meals just do math and see how much money and how many calories you’ll be saving each month. Just think of the cute shoes you’ll be able to buy with your lunch time savings!

 

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So you want to lose weight? Don’t we all!

The holiday season is over and now we’re all feeling a little guilty about how much we indulged during the holiday party circuit, especially since your pants are fitting a little more snuggly than they used to. So now you’ve made one of the most common New Year’s resolutions out there – you’re going to be healthy, get fit, lose the weight and maybe even run a marathon just to prove that this really is the year you’re going to follow through and make your weight loss goal. Well if you’re a stranger to eating right and regular exercise this can be an overwhelming resolution to keep, so we’re here to help you stay on the wagon all year long. That’s right, all year long – not all month long, not three months long, not six months long, ALL YEAR LONG. Remember, you want to lose the weight forever, not just send it on vacation for a couple of weeks.

For now think baby steps instead of giant leaps. Make your weight loss decisions realistic so that they fit with your regular routine. You can try to lose five pounds in a week but if you don’t have the hours (that’s right – multiple hours) to spend in an aerobic frenzy you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. You’ll end up feeling bad about not finishing what you set out to accomplish and end up quitting (again).  For now make really, really simple changes that are easy to stick to. Since we’re all creatures of habit and routine, make small adjustment to yours in the weight loss direction.  Add an alert in your schedule reminding you to drink a glass of water. If you love soft drinks switch to a low calorie or sugar free drink like an iced herbal tea, take a supplement that contains Glucomannan to help with weight loss and don’t feel bad about treating yourself once in awhile. We all love treats!

If it helps, think of the old story about the tortoise and hare.  Slow and steady wins the weight loss race.  Instead of saying “I am going to lose 20lbs by July” make your decision to be healthier overall. Instead say, “I’d like to look and feel fabulous by Christmas”.

The best thing to do if you’re serious about losing weight is to know where you’re starting from and what you’re starting with.  Get all the info, how much do you weigh? What are your measurements? What is a healthy, realistic weight for your body type and age? How many calories should I be eating a day? How often and for how long should I be exercising on a weekly basis? The next time you have a doctor’s appointment ask these questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. Sometimes a little shock therapy can be just thing to get you going.

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Vitamins and Supplements for Women

How long does it take for vitamins and supplements for women to start working or be effective?

It really depends on what supplement you are taking, the dosage, and your system (how your body processes the supplement). With certain supplements, such as multivitamins or fish oil, you may not necessarily feel any different, however taking these products helps correct deficiencies, ensures that your nutritional needs are met and may help to protect against certain chronic diseases. In comparison to pharmaceutical drugs, vitamins and supplements for women are typically very gentle on your system and as such require a longer period of consecutive use for optimal results. With herbal products that are taken therapeutically, such as Menopause Relief which contains Black cohosh, you may start to notice benefits (relief of menopause symptoms) in a few weeks. Since everyone is different and every herbal remedy is different there is no one answer to the amount of time a vitamin or herbal remedy will take for noticeable results.  With femMED products we recommend 3-4 weeks of consecutive use for best results.

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