Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Outsmart Cervical Cancer with Paps, Vaccines

Outsmart Cervical Cancer with Paps, Vaccines

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

Author’s Note:  Due to December’s “holiday crush”, the planned input from a cervical cancer expert could not be arranged until later in January.  The results of that interview will be made available ASAP, but for now, please enjoy the following article, which contains a lot of relevant, useful, basic cervical cancer information.  The article originally appeared just a few years ago on the GHWCC website; the information is still accurate and helpful, and if you missed the article the first time around, you now have a second chance to review it while we wait to hear the latest news from a cervical cancer expert – coming soon.

Cervical cancer is now much less common in the United States than it used to be just a few decades ago, and we can all thank the invention of the Pap test and American women’s adherence to frequent testing for that decline in cervical cancer rates.  Still, to keep this awful disease’s rate of occurrence on a steady downward slide, there are some basic facts about the disease and its prevention that we should all understand.
            To begin, the cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects the main body of the uterus to the vagina.  Almost always, cervical cancer is caused by a virus known as HPV. There are a few rare exceptions where the cause of the cervical cancer is unclear, but the vast majority of cervical cancer cases are linked to HPV infection.  HPV is an abbreviation for human papilloma virus, of which there are more than 100 related types.  About 60 types are found on the skin and can cause the common wart with which we’re all familiar.  The remaining 40+ types of HPV are called genital HPV because they affect the anal and genital areas only, not other skin areas, such as on the hands or feet.
            These roughly 40 types of genital HPV are divided into two groups called “low-risk” and “high-risk” HPV.  “Low-risk” genital HPV causes genital warts and can even cause changes in cervix cells, but not changes that lead to cancer.  “High-risk” HPV, on the other hand, has been linked with genital or anal cancers in both women and men.  It is these “high-risk” HPV viruses that cause cervix cell changes that lead to pre-cancers or cancer.
            Fortunately, much can be done with regard to early detection of the disease, treatment, and prevention of infection in the first place.  Let’s start with how HPV is contracted.  According to the American Cancer Society, “Genital HPV is passed from one person to another by direct skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex.  It is not spread through blood or body fluids.”  Genital HPV is very common; approximately 50% to 75% of people who have ever had sex will get HPV at some time during their lives.  Certain estimates name a rate as high as 80% of sexually experienced individuals are expected to contract some form of HPV.  Yet, comparatively few people go on to develop cancer.  The reason for this low rate is two-fold.  Not all HPV infections are of the type to cause cancer.  Also, the human body tends to clear the virus over time.  Usually, from six months to two years after contracting HPV, the human body succeeds in extinguishing the infection; and therefore, the HPV viruses that can cause pre-cancerous cells to form never have a chance to spread or cause problems.
            For the relatively small percentage of women (about 10%) who don’t clear the virus from their bodies naturally over time, they may find themselves at higher risk for pre-cancerous cell formation.  Still, not every woman who has detectable levels of HPV over several years will go on to develop pre-cancerous or cancerous cells.  Some individuals seem to be able to live with HPV and suffer few effects.
            For those women who do develop pre-cancerous or cancerous cell changes, there are a number of treatment options available, which are often quite effective and lifesaving.  The key to successful treatment is to discover the pre-cancerous or cancerous cells early in their development.  Pre-cancerous cells, if destroyed at this early stage, will never develop into actual cancer.  Similarly, early stage cancerous tumors are much more successfully treated than those in later stages.
            With early detection of problem cells so vital to positive outcomes, in steps the need for regular Pap tests, which provide that essential information.  Between 1955 and 1992, cervical cancer death rates declined by nearly 70%.  The primary reason for the change was the increased use of the Pap test.  In more recent years, the death rate from cervical cancer continues to decline by about 3% per year for American women. The Pap test has been a huge help in the fight against cervical cancer.
            Although the Pap test is a wonderful means of identifying problem cells, even the Pap has its limitations.  For one thing, the test is interpreted by humans, who can mistakes.  Also, a number of other factors can make the chances of obtaining an accurate result less likely.  To increase the likelihood of catching problem cells early, the American Cancer Society makes the following recommendations:

            •All women should begin getting Pap tests three years after they start having vaginal intercourse.  A woman who waits until after age 18 to have sex should begin screening by age 21.  Pap tests should be performed every year until age 30.  Women with no exceptional risk factors who have had three normal Pap test results in a row by age 30 may then be tested less often, generally every two to three years.  Women who have exceptional risk factors, such as HIV (AIDs virus), other cancers, or a weakened immune system from other causes should continue to get Pap tests yearly.
            •Women age 70 and older who have had three or more normal Pap results in a row can choose to stop screening altogether unless they fall into a high risk factor group due to other health conditions.  Women are urged to consult their doctors about their individual health situations before electing to cease testing.
            •Women who have undergone a total hysterectomy, including removal of the cervix, may also cease Pap testing, unless the reason for removing the cervix was because of pre-cancer or cancer formation.  If so, those women are advised to consult their doctors about appropriate screening for the possibility of future cancer risk in other areas of the body.
To help reduce the number of factors that can cause an inaccurate Pap reading, always do the following prior to the actual Pap test:

            •Don’t schedule the appointment during a menstrual period.
            •Don’t have sexual intercourse for 48 hours before the test.
            •Don’t douche, use tampons, birth control foams, jellies, or other vaginal creams or vaginal medicines for 48 hours before the test.

            Besides frequent screenings (Pap tests), there is another way to help prevent cervical cancer - vaccination, which can prevent becoming infected with two types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer.  Vaccination with either Gardasil or Cervarix, which are vaccines designed to protect the previously unexposed person from ever contracting HPV, can be helpful.  These vaccines are generally recommended for people who are not yet sexually active, and therefore, highly unlikely to have been exposed to any HPV viruses.  Girls and young women, ages 9 to 26 years, are urged to consider getting vaccinated by the American Cancer Society.  Boys and young men, aged 9 - 26, are also eligible for vaccination.  Males can get cancers of the head, neck, anus, and penis from HPV, as well as genital warts; therefore, HPV viruses do pose a threat to males as well.  There is evidence that vaccination provides at least some protection, perhaps quite a bit, to males for both cancer protection and genital warts.  Gardasil also contains protection against the two types of HPV that cause most genital warts (about 90%) in both males and females.
            There are some downsides to vaccination, which should be considered before making a final decision to vaccinate.  There is a greater than normal (as compared to other types of vaccines) risk of fainting immediately after receiving the injection.  Because of this risk, there is a mandatory waiting period of 15 minutes after receiving the shot before patients are allowed to leave.  Although most patients recover from a fainting spell with no further problems, some scattered individual accounts have complained of other side effects well after the injection was received.
            Individuals with multiple allergies, especially to yeast, should consult their doctors before deciding to proceed with vaccination.  Likewise, individuals who have histories of medical difficulty with vaccines in general should consult their doctors before proceeding.  Anyone who has had a bad experience with the first shot (in the series of three) for HPV should not receive additional HPV vaccinations.
            Another issue to consider with HPV vaccination is the cost. Always check with your insurance company or state or federal health authorities about your individual options before proceeding uninformed.
            Possible vaccination benefits to older males and females, from ages 27 and up, are being studied. Although most people have generally been exposed to HPV by this age, there is reason to believe that vaccination, even after virus exposure, may somehow help prevent the virus from causing troublesome cellular changes in the body.
            Whether young or older, all women should remain vigilant with Pap test screening.  Even HPV vaccinated young women should still get regular Pap tests.  The vaccine can help prevent only about 70% of cervical cancer risk.  There’s still that 30% risk lurking out there for the vaccinated group and a greater risk than that for the unvaccinated.
            Early detection is a lifesaver; always make use of your friend, the Pap.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Wide Reach of Depression and How to Fight Back

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

Author’s Note:  The following article gives an overview of depression, SAD, and anxiety.  Please read the article all the way through to the end to discover some of the latest news and suggestions on how sufferers can add certain lifestyle features to their treatment plan for greater symptom relief.

Depression adversely influences the lives of millions of Americans each year.  Not only do the depressed patients suffer, but so do their close family members, friends, and in some cases, even co-workers and employers, as they try to cope with a depressed individual’s problems.
            Depression affects the whole person, including the body in general, the nervous system in particular, as well as moods, thoughts, and behaviors.  Depression creates effects in eating and sleeping patterns, self-concept, and a person’s reactions to the people and events in his/her environment.
            Depressive symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years.  There are several types of depression with varying numbers of symptoms and frequency and duration of occurrence.
            Common symptoms of any type of depression include the following: chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, headaches, backaches, digestive disorders, restlessness, irritability, quickness to anger, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, and feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. Additional symptoms include: sadness, hopelessness, pessimism, body aches, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of death or suicide, muscle tension, teeth grinding, or jaw clenching.
            There are a number of risk factors for depression.  Simply being female is a big risk factor.  Women endure depression (and anxiety) disorders twice as often as men; currently, researchers speculate that hormonal fluctuations raise the risk of depression.  Individuals from families with a history of depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and/or suicide are at increased risk for depressive disorders.  Family dynamics and childhood adversity can raise the risk of developing depression as well.  Worrying about money, health, or world events, especially during childhood, can increase risk of anxiety, phobias, and depression.  Likewise, children who have suffered bullying or traumatic family events have a higher risk of developing depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives.
            Additional depression risk factors include the following:  side effects of some prescription drugs, illicit drug or alcohol use, living at a low socioeconomic level, and having few personal relationships.  Likewise, abusive relationships of any kind, or even strained relations with close family or friends can lead to increased risk of depression, as can death, divorce, or unemployment.  Certain aspects of brain chemistry or brain structure can contribute to increased depression risk or severity of depression.  Individuals with lower or higher than normal levels of specific brain chemicals are known to suffer more frequently from depression than a “normal” individual.  Similarly, having fewer than normal brain chemical receptors and/or a thin right cortex can cause depression and/or anxiety.
            Anxiety and depression often occur together; in fact, some sources state there is nearly a 60% overlap in the two conditions. While some sufferers experience the more dramatic manifestation of anxiety, namely panic attacks, which feature physical symptoms similar to a heart attack, other patients experience what’s termed GAD or generalized anxiety disorder, which is a more low grade, but chronic and persistent, unrealistic worrying about minor problems, daily events, or the future.  Other forms of anxiety disorder include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and social anxiety disorder.
            The three major categories of depressive disorders are as follows:  major depression, dysthymic depression, and bipolar depression.  Major depression is a combination of symptoms such as sadness, irritability, and worthlessness that persist for two or more weeks and interfere with a person’s ability to engage in daily activities, responsibilities, or interests.  Major depression is disabling and often alters sleeping and eating patterns in a negative way.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is a form of major depression that occurs in the fall and winter months due to the body’s reaction to lower levels of sunlight.  Dysthymic depression is a less severe and dramatic, but longer lasting, version of major depression.  Dysthymic patients are generally able to go through the routine habits of daily life but are rarely able to function at their full capacity of abilities.  Dysthymia interferes with enjoyment of life, social interactions, and normal functioning to its fullest degree.  Dysthymia my last for years; unfortunately, patients may be viewed mistakenly by family, friends, co-workers, or employers as lacking initiative, goals, or discipline, when really the patient is suffering from a medical condition.  Bipolar disorder often begins as depression, but as it progresses, the disorder evolves into alternating episodes of depression and mania, or abnormally and persistently elevated mood, energy, restlessness, or even irritability.  Bipolar disorder is less common than the other “unipolar” disorders and more decidedly linked to genetic factors and brain chemistry abnormalities, rather than environmental factors such as lifestyle or traumatic events.
            Fortunately, even with all the numerous risk factors for depression and the prevalence of the disorder in our population, there is much reason for hope.  Many things can be done to alleviate depression, or in some cases, make it go away completely.
            Among the many treatments for depression are the following: antidepressant medications, nutritional therapies, exercise, sleep improvement, self-help through depression education and support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and simply talking through troublesome emotions or life situations with a trained counselor.
            Below are a few highlights about each treatment:
            •Antidepressant medications can favorably alter the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, thereby elevating mood and allowing thinking to become more focused.
            •Improving nutrition can make a significant difference in brain function.  Increasing intake of complex carbohydrates and proteins can improve neurotransmitter production noticeably.  Increasing intake of B-complex vitamins is also a very effective means of helping brain function.  Fairly large oral doses, or in some cases, even vitamin injections may be necessary.  Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium are also helpful in treating or preventing depressive symptoms.  See pages 361-368 of the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch for a comprehensive investigation of natural and nutritional depression therapies.
            •Exercise, even 10 - 15 minutes a day, can uplift mood.  Longer exercise bouts bring even more mood relief and physical health benefits.  Some researchers believe exercise can be as effective as a second antidepressant medication.
            •Sleep disturbances can wreak havoc with body balance, both physical and mental.  Work with your doctor to implement a good, healthful sleep situation for your lifestyle.  Your body and moods will improve.
            •Self-help through educational books, CDs, or websites can improve understanding of your condition and empower you to correct it.  Support groups can provide a “safe” social outlet with others suffering similar problems and can increase personal knowledge of your condition, treatment, and ways to change your situation for the better.
            •Cognitive behavioral therapy can help “retrain” your brain and reroute negative thinking and destructive behaviors to ones more positive and helpful in elevating mood.
            •Speaking with a trained counselor can help you see your problems in a new light and help you find constructive solutions to your situation.
            There are many helpful resources available.  Start with an honest discussion with your doctor and ask for referrals for information or counseling.
            The following suggestions are a “quick read” guide to a few of the findings of recent studies on depression, anxiety, and SAD.  These suggestions are not intended to supplant a doctor’s care or treatment, but rather, to add another tactical dimension to the war on depression and its related conditions.
            •Canadian researchers have shown in studies that the active ingredient in saffron (crocin) stimulates the brain to produce more mood-boosting serotonin.  Eating as little as a 1/10 tsp. can have beneficial effects.  Enjoy the spice in soups, stews, and rice recipes – perfect for cold weather.
            •Yale University researchers say the nutrients manganese, molybdenum, and B vitamins encourage the body’s production of the hormone oxytocin, which soothes anxiety.  Interestingly, oatmeal contains the trio of nutrients known to promote oxytocin production; so, go ahead and enjoy a big steaming bowl of oatmeal – for heart and mental health.
            •According to the American Journal of Public Health, adding at least two servings of fruits and vegetables to the daily diet can improve mood.  The more produce study participants ate, the more their moods improved.
            •Consider attending religious services to reduce anxiety.  Both formal studies and informal anecdotal evidence indicate attendance of religious services can ease anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation.  If you’re “not into” formal religion, consider prayer, meditation, or yoga.
            •If depression or anxiety symptoms began with the loss of a loved one (human or animal) or the loss of employment or a social situation, don’t suppress grieving.  Don’t be afraid to cry the proverbial “bowl full of tears”, shout, scream, or at least, talk through feelings of grief with a friend or professional.  Releasing pent-up feelings (in a non-violent way) can often ease anxiety or depression that stems from a loss.  Talk therapy has been a valuable treatment tool by mental health professionals for decades.  Now, “Death Cafes” are getting international attention as safe places where widows, widowers, or other grieving persons can go to exchange stories about their losses and coping strategies in a nonjudgmental and positive environment.
            Depression can be successfully treated; seek your personal right answers; they’re available. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dealing Effectively with Diabetes

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

The disease, diabetes, is a scourge proliferating around the world at alarming rates.  The results of diabetes bring blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, weight gain or loss, limb amputation, skin ulcers, constipation, and nausea.
            In a nutshell, diabetes is a condition of long-term, chronic high blood sugar that slowly destroys the body’s tissues.  There are various drugs, both oral and by injection, that can lower blood sugar and extend life.  Although these drugs can be helpful, and are life extending, they are not “cures”, and many of these drugs have significant side effects.
            The best way to deal with diabetes is to avoid getting it in the first place, or if already afflicted with the ailment, one should take a hands-on management style to the condition and not rely solely on prescription drugs.  Do what you can to help yourself.
            Diabetes comes as either type 1 or type 2.  Type 1 victims are born with an inability to produce sufficient insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar.  Type II diabetes is a condition that comes on gradually over a long period of time and typically appears in middle aged or older adults, although recently, more youthful patients have been being diagnosed.
            Type 2 diabetes is thought to develop as the body’s pancreas becomes worn out, exhausted, and/or confused and can no longer make or release insulin appropriately; to complicate matters further, throughout the body, cells become less attentive to insulin’s presence, resulting in insulin resistance.  Pancreatic exhaustion and insulin resistance are thought to result largely from diets too high in sugars and carbohydrates.  Not only does the pancreas become “tired” over time from having to deal with so many sugars, but the body’s cells system-wide become less responsive to the ever-present insulin to the point that they quit being able to usher sugars into the cells efficiently.  When sugars don’t make it into the cells, sugar levels in the blood rise, wreaking havoc all over the body’s various parts.
            So, what can be done to help prevent or treat diabetes effectively?  Below are a few important suggestions:

            •  Eat a well balanced diet that goes light on sugars, simple carbohydrates, and sugar substitutes.  For a while, about 20 to 30 years ago, diabetics were urged to use sugar substitutes to replace regular table sugar as a “healthier” option.  Years of the public’s experience and more recently, scientific research, has shown most of these sweeteners to have significant drawbacks of various sorts, and some substitutes may be equally, if not more, disturbing to the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels than table sugar itself.
            Stevia is a rare exception.  This naturally derived sweetener will actually lower blood sugar, which can be good for diabetics.  However, diabetics should monitor blood sugar levels carefully to be sure their glucose levels don’t go too low if using stevia extensively while taking prescription sugar lowering drugs.

            •  Exercise is also an excellent antidote to high blood glucose.  Not only does the exercise itself help to burn calories and temporarily lower blood sugar levels, but exercise also assists with lowering inflammation levels throughout the body, which are thought to contribute to the development of diabetes.  Exercise also helps to reduce excess body fat and emotional stress, both of which are additional contributors to the onset of diabetes.

            •  Stress reduction is very critical to avoiding, or successfully treating, diabetes.  The human body produces a much higher rate of cortisol than normal when under chronic stress.  Cortisol raises blood sugar levels; therefore, chronic unrelenting stress and its accompanying high cortisol levels will result in elevated blood sugar rates compared to those of a person in a normal, relaxed state of being.
            Seek any way practical to your individual lifestyle to reduce stress; whether you choose long walks outdoors, yoga, chatting with a friend, watching a favorite T.V. show, going on vacation, or whatever you find relaxing, be sure to make time for down time.  Your pancreas, heart, adrenal glands, and body in general will thank you.

            •  Any time you’re choosing to eat something sugary, exercise conscious portion control and pair the sugary food with something that has protein, fat, or fiber.  Any of these three nutrient types will slow the body’s reaction to the presence of simple sugars and reduce glucose spikes (and dips).

            •  Think about adding cinnamon to your diet occasionally to lower blood sugar naturally.  Cinnamon adds a pleasant little kick to many foods, and it has been scientifically shown to lower blood sugar.
            If you wish to include cinnamon in your regimen regularly, look for cinnamon capsule supplements at health food stores.  Large, regular doses of “table” cinnamon used for seasoning can cause a toxic overload of certain cinnamon compounds in the body.  Capsule supplements that are designed for regular consumption are generally free of (or low in) these compounds and are therefore safer than taking a lot of “table” cinnamon.

            •  Many people, especially diabetics, benefit from taking supplemental alpha-lipoic acid, chromium picolinate, and/or magnesium to help lower and stabilize blood sugar and to help strengthen their bodies against some of the ravages of diabetes.
            As always, before taking any dietary supplement(s), check with your doctor to avoid any “contra-indications” between your prescription drugs and dietary supplements.  Also, a chat with your physician may help reveal any likely sensitivities, allergies, or other specific reasons pertaining to your individual health that would point toward taking or not taking a particular supplement.

            In conclusion, when facing the possibility of (or certainty of) the old foe, diabetes, take a thoughtful, proactive approach; weigh your options carefully and don’t be afraid to change course if things aren’t working out as you’d hoped.  There are many helpful ways to attack this nemesis.  Use all the weapons in the arsenal that are right for your situation.  Good luck!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Restaurant Review: America’s Wine Dinner

America’s Wine Dinner

Manager, James Tohill
Dining at America’s River Oaks transforms you into the tastes and feeling of adventure that the original explorers experienced when discovering new worlds.  Contemporary art gives tribute to earthy seeds, beans and corn.  The uniqueness of each fabric light fixture mimics a field of flowers and the smooth dark booths are giant curls carved from blocks of chocolate.  Even the sleek design of the chairs resembles Peruvian llama legs.
Paella Mariscada

The Everyday 4 – 7 Happy Hour (and All Day Thursdays) attracts 75 percent women
by providing an intimate atmosphere with a selection of small plates featuring lobster corndogs, tiritas – a potato crusted calamari with JalapeƱo remoulade or Ahi Tuna. 
A recent wine dinner started with an Ahi Tuna Tostada dressed with romaine, garlic, blue cheese and sesame followed by Paella

Turtle Cheesecake

Mariscada, a blend of achiote Shrimp, lump crab, green mussels, chorizo and saffron rice.   The main course of Chuletas de Cordero (smoked lamb chops) was by far the best lamb I have ever been served.  All courses were paired with the perfect Marques de Caceres wines.   The finale featured turtle cheesecake laced with oreo, almond praline, chocolate and salted toffee.   This unique experience made me question why I had not visited America’s since it moved

Eclectic mirror in the 

ladies' room flirts back

at you
from the Galleria.  And ladies, there are not many places you can find a mirror that flirts back with you.  The evening was a great new re-connection with distinctive old favorite.

October, 2016

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)