Thursday, October 20, 2016

Helpful Advice for Breast Cancer Prevention and Screening

by Darra McMullen,
Women’s Health Network Writer/Researcher

The subject of breast cancer is so broad that it deserves several in-depth articles covering different aspects of the condition, its prevention, and treatment.  Although such an endeavor is not possible within the confines of this relatively brief web article, some major highlights of breast cancer prevention and screening will be discussed.
            Let’s look first at breast cancer prevention.  To begin, we’ll examine some of the American Cancer Society’s best advice for breast (or any) cancer prevention.  Preferring to generate original material, this writer rarely ever includes large passages of a source’s words verbatim; however, in this particular case, I felt that the American Cancer Society did a particularly good and succinct job of providing useful information in its printed materials.  The next following twelve paragraphs are words taken directly from American Cancer Society pamphlets and booklets.  A brief note will be made in the article when American Cancer Society words end, and this writer resumes original material.

Maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
            • Balance caloric intake with physical activity.
            • Avoid excessive weight gain throughout your life.
            • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight if currently overweight or obese.

Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
            • Adults should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, above your usual daily activities, on five days or more a week; 45 to 60 minutes of intentional physical activity is preferable if you want to reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer.
            • Children and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least five days a week.

Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources.
            • Choose foods and beverages in amounts that will help you maintain a healthy weight.
            • Eat at least five servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
            • Choose whole grains instead of refined grains and sugars.
            • Limit your consumption of processed and red meats.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.
            • For men, limit alcohol to two drinks a day, for women, 1 drink a day.
            • A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or one and one-half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
            • The risk of breast cancer increases with just a few drinks per week.  Women at high risk for breast cancer may consider not consuming alcohol at all.  Reducing alcohol consumption is a good way for women who drink regularly to reduce their risk of breast cancer.

Other important dietary tips from the American Cancer Society include:

            • Canned and frozen vegetables and fruits can be just as nutritious as fresh and, depending on the season, may be cheaper.  Watch out for canned fruits packed in heavy syrup and for vegetables high in sodium.  Choose frozen fruits without added sugar and frozen vegetables without high-fat sauces.

            • Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, beans are a great addition to your cancer-fighting diet.  Try them in salads, in soups, as a side dish, or even as a main course.  Try serving main-course bean dishes at least once a week as a low-fat, high fiber alternative to meat.  In a hurry?  Use canned beans instead of dried.

            • Look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient on labels for bread, cereal, and crackers.  Choose whole grains over processed (white) grains when possible.

            • Choose fish, poultry, or beans as an alternative to beef, pork, and lamb.

            • When you eat meat, select lean cuts and smaller portions.

            • Prepare meat by baking, broiling, or poaching, rather than by frying or charbroiling.

            • Frying or charbroiling meats at very high temperatures creates chemicals that might increase cancer risk.  Although these chemicals cause cancer in animal experiments, it’s not clear if they actually cause cancer in people.  Best advice: limit how often you grill meats; don’t eat any charred parts, and precook meats a little before you put them on the grill to limit their time being grilled.

Writer’s note:  American Cancer Society information ends with the above paragraph.
            This writer’s original material proceeds from this point forward, unless otherwise noted.

There are several dietary supplements that show good evidence of helping to avoid breast cancer and/or to help the person fighting breast cancer to survive their condition more successfully.
            The book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC has a fascinating, thorough, and well-written nine and one-half page section devoted to breast cancer prevention, screening, and nutritional support for women seeking to avoid breast cancer or treat it more effectively.
            The following dietary supplement suggestions are recommended in Balch’s book, and these same supplements have been widely discussed and recommended in other media.  Of course, as always, check with your personal physician before taking supplements, especially if you are presently under treatment for breast cancer or take prescription drugs for any ailment.

            Below is a brief listing of each supplement and its benefits:

•  CoQ10 – This substance improves cellular oxygenation and is available widely for improving heart health.  Increasing evidence supports the theory that coenzyme Q10 reduces the risk of breast cancer.

•  Colostrum – Boosts the immune system to protect against infections and is known to promote accelerated healing.

•  Garlic – It has been used for ages to maintain wellness and has been scientifically shown to enhance immune function.

•  Melatonin – This substance is known to block estrogen-receptor sites on breast cancer cells; if you’ve ever suffered from seizures, talk to your doctor before using this product.

•  Multivitamin and Multi-mineral – Overall nutritional balance is needed to keep cells functioning properly.  Multis can help fill in dietary nutritional gaps and help stressed human bodies cope better with disease and treatment.

•  Vitamin E – Deficiency has been linked to breast cancer.  Vitamin E also helps with hormone production and immune function.

•  Vitamin C – This vitamin has a long history of improving immune response to any invaders, including cancer cells.

•  Natural carotenoid complex – The carotenoid complex works as a powerful antioxidant that destroys free radicals, thereby protecting cells from damage.

•  Omega 3 fatty acids – They improve any inflammatory problems and lower cancer risk.

•  Curcumin – Is another powerful anti-inflammatory agent and immune enhancer.

•  Rosemary extract – It is an excellent anti-oxidant that helps remove estrogens from the body; and therefore, may help inhibit breast cancer development.

Screenings are very important for breast health!

            Depending on which group of experts you refer to for advice, mammograms should become yearly events at age 40, 45, or 50.  Generally, women younger than 40 are urged to talk with their doctors about an appropriate screening schedule based on individual factors.  Of course, high-risk women of any age may need more frequent screenings and/or screenings with added dimensions of testing, such as ultrasound.  Women of any age with dense breast tissue are in particular need of ultrasound or MRI testing in addition to mammograms because mammograms cannot always detect small tumors in dense breasts.
            Yearly manual breast exams by a doctor or nurse are a good idea for all women of all ages.  Young women may be able to extend to an every two or three year testing schedule, but do so only after consulting with a doctor for guidance.
Self-exams of the breast on a frequent (often monthly) schedule are a good idea and can help the individual woman familiarize herself with what’s normal for her particular body.  Self- exams have led many a woman to discover a problem (sometimes cancer, sometimes another condition) with her breasts.  Early treatment of any problem – cancer, benign tumors, bacterial or fungal infections, etc. – generally leads to a more successful outcome and quicker resolution of the situation.
            When it comes to screenings, the most important thing to do is open up a comfortable channel of communication with your doctor about your breast health.  Discuss your individual risk factors, any breast related concerns you have, and any fears you may have about your health, the screenings themselves, and if needed, treatment options.
            When it comes to preventing, detecting, and treating breast cancer, thoughtful, calm, deliberate action is the best path to follow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Suggested Reading - Four Executives on Succeeding in Business as a Woman

Given that the arguments surrounding work-life balance have been so fully voiced, here is a different track, adding more insights to the discussion of leadership challenges that women face at work, apart from the juggling act.

Read the article here

Friday, June 24, 2016

June Leadership Luncheon

Challenge Yourself to be a Courageous Leader
06/21/2016, Westin Galleria Houston

The Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce hosted a powerful leadership luncheon at the Westin Galleria that challenged GHWCC luncheon attendees to be courageous leaders. Bambi McCullough of Chrysalis Partners, continued the discussion from GHWCC's NO LIMITS Conference for Women regarding leadership and continuing breaking glass ceilings. Each table was facilitated by Houston's leading women in different industries. Facilitators include Former City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Bambi McCullough, Council Member Amanda Edwards, Loretta Cross, Caroline Fant, Samina Farid, Valerie Gibbs, Ora Gibson, Marsha Murray, Rhonda Arnold, and other dynamic leaders.
Kate Good, Bambi McCullough (Keynote Speaker)

Former City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Suzan Deison
(GHWCC CEO/President/Founder)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Restaurant Review: Peska Seafood Culture

Peska Seafood Culture

Helmed by star Executive Chef Omar Pereney, Peska delivers some of the most unique and delicious seafood dishes in Houston. Fresh, flavorful and well-executed dishes with beautiful presentation are what guests can expect to discover at Peska.

Chef Omar Pereney
Born in Venezuela, Pereney has been making waves in the culinary world since the age of 12. Now 21 years old, Pereney is a highly recognized chef throughout South America and Mexico. He is one of the youngest chefs in the United States to have reached the position of Executive Chef.

Pereney’s talent is undeniable, and his menu is sure to please the most demanding palette. On my most recent visit to the restaurant, I had the Ceviche Peruano, Lobster Cappuccino, and the brunch pancakes.

The Ceviche Peruano is a colorful combination of textures and flavors, and includes mahi mahi, octopus, yellow peppers, cancha (corn) and sweet potatoes. The contrast of citrus with corn and sweet potato make this one of my favorite ceviche dishes.

The Lobster Cappuccino is a lobster bisque with white truffle foam, lobster and brie crostini. That may sound like a dish that leans toward the heavy side, but it was surprisingly light and filling, not to mention beautifully presented.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Take Charge of Your Health with Medical Screenings

by Darra McMullen,
GHWCC and Women’s Health Network writer/researcher

With the observance of National Women’s Health Week (May 8th. – 14th.) in our very recent rear view mirror, now is the perfect time to make a personal health plan and implement it into our everyday lives.

            During National Women’s Health Week, most of us probably read or heard, in a piecemeal fashion, about various health issues effecting women, but we may not have sat down and tried to coalesce our tidbits of information into a cohesive body of information from which to make a plan of action. Because we at the GHWCC encourage all women to care for their whole selves, the information that follows is intended as a quick checklist of overall health basics to help us focus our attentions on improving overall health – including in areas that we may often gloss over or ignore completely.

To begin, we’ll start with the more commonly discussed issues surrounding women’s health, but we’ll move quickly to areas frequently overlooked.

  “Know your numbers” – weight, height, blood pressure, cholesterol (LDL, HDL, triglycerides, overall total cholesterol), blood glucose, A1C.

These figures can give you important clues to your overall risk for major killer diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, or other cardiovascular problems, as well as clues to the presence of other conditions, such as osteoporosis.

  Make sure your female parts are examined and screened for disease.  Breasts, ovaries, uteruses, and vaginas have on-going issues and needs throughout life, even if child bearing is long over.  Younger women who still have child bearing in the picture have even greater need for being sure their female parts are healthy.  Whatever your age and stage of life, make sure you’ve been screened recently for cancer and other health problems.  Talk with your doctor about a screening regimen that’s right for you and your personal needs.

Monday, May 16, 2016

GHWCC Member Restaurant Spotlight: UP Restaurant


 Authentic, high quality, savory American cuisine with a bold Texas twist

Set in a Highland Village landscape, Up features classic American food with a menu that is planned for the way Houstonians like to eat and drink. The menu stands apart from the trends of the day. Whether one is craving authentic Spanish Paella, USDA steak, or crudo, they will find their favorite version at Up.

Perched three floors up you will be able to enjoy the scenery of downtown Houston or the Galleria. Enjoy the outdoor patio and the wall to wall windows that will be open when weather permits.

Up is destined to become a Houston staple-your second kitchen. Service is simple- never fussy. Always kind and welcoming, Up is the way dining should be. Authentic, Quality, and Savory American Cuisine with a Bold, Texas Twist!


After 5:30PM


Up Restaurant has unique private and semi private dining areas that will meet every need.

3995 Westheimer Rd.
3rd Floor
Houston, TX 77027

Phone: 713.640.5416

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cancer Prevention, Gratitude, Optimism, and Food: A Powerful Relationship

by Darra McMullen,
Women’s Health Network Member, and GHWCC Writer/Researcher

What common thread(s) could possibly connect subjects as diverse as breast cancer (or any cancer) prevention, traditional winter foods, and attitudes of gratitude and optimism?  The answer is “plenty” – plenty of “common thread” connections and plenty of healthful takeaway lessons for us all.

            This article could easily be entitled, “Onward from October, Through the Holidays, and Beyond” because of the many dovetailed facts connecting breast cancer (or any cancer) prevention with holiday, or more generally, wintertime food favorites, and the positive mind-set we often have around holiday time and early in the new year.
            As we’ll see as this article progresses, the ingredients common to holiday or winter favorite foods and the positive mind-set common to the new year should become part of a year-round regimen for breast or any cancer prevention, improved overall immunity, and general health improvement.
            To begin, let’s take a look at the importance of mind-set in cancer prevention before getting into the nuts and bolts of nutritional aids against the disease.
            According to scientists at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, a person who regularly gives thanks by daily jotting down three items (or more) for which he/she is grateful, can extend life by up to around 12 years.  The “attitude of gratitude” habit and the optimism it engenders help activate a gene that strengthens the immune system’s ability to destroy cancer cells, as well as helps lower blood pressure and slows aging of blood vessels and organs.  Test subjects’ gratitude lists didn’t have to be extensive; even simple things like viewing a funny video that lifted a test subject’s spirits could “count” as one of the three gratitude items named on the daily list.
            The importance of the daily list was not its contents, per se, but rather the fact that the list served to remind the individual to stop, focus, and think about the positive things in his/her life, and that positive focus and mind-set of gratitude actually improves health, slows aging, and helps prevent cancer development.
            For years, self-help books, various faiths, and anecdotal evidence have encouraged gratitude and positive mind-sets, but now, more and more scientific evidence is backing up the importance of those same attributes by showing the connection to improved health, cancer prevention, and even cancer survival for those stricken with the disease.  Cancer patients are now regularly encouraged to practice gratitude and optimistic attitudes to help them deal with the rigors of treatment, as well as to help keep them from falling into depression over their serious conditions.