Tag Archives: alcohol

No amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe for the unborn child

USA Today reports, “A new study pinpoints the latter half of the first trimester as a critical time in the development of” signs of fetal alcohol syndrome, “such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip, small head size, unusually small-set eyes and shorter-than-average height.” Continue reading

Even low levels of alcohol increase breast cancer risk

A study linking alcohol consumption to breast cancer risk garnered a significant amount of coverage, with all three national news broadcasts covering the story recently. The story received more coverage than any other on the national broadcasts, with regard to time. The story was also covered extensively by wires and print media. Continue reading

Three lifestyle changes significantly reduce cancer rates

In two previous blogs (“Thirty percent of breast cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes” and “Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds“) I’ve discussed the association between cancer risk and lifestyle choices. Continue reading

Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds

There’s been a lot of debate about mammograms for breast cancer screening, but an even more important health promotion exercise would be for women to everything they can to prevent breast cancer. And now experts are reporting that women can do three things to dramatically reduce their risk of getting breast cancer — especially if they have a strong family history of breast cancer:

  • Exercise (20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week),
  • Maintain a healthy weight (BMI of 18.5 to under 25), and
  • Watch alcohol intake (fewer than seven drinks per week).

Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News:

Women who maintain certain “breast-healthy” habits can lower their risk of breast cancer, even if a close relative has had the disease, a new study finds.

Engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all, was shown in a large study to help protect against breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the researchers said.

“Whether or not you have a family history, the risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaged in these three sets of behavior compared to women who were not,” said study leader Dr. Robert Gramling, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. The study was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

Gramling wanted to look at the effects of lifestyle habits on breast cancer risk because he suspects some women with a family history may believe their risk is out of their control.

He analyzed data on U.S. women aged 50 to 79 from the Women’s Health Initiative study starting in 1993. During 5.4 years of follow-up, 1,997 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

Gramling excluded women with a personal history of breast cancer or with a family history of early-onset cancer (diagnosed before age 45), then observed the impact of the healthy habits.

Excluding those with an early-onset family history makes sense, because a stronger genetic (versus environmental) component is thought to play a role in early-onset, experts say.

Following all three habits reduced the risk of breast cancer for women with and without a late-onset family history. “For women who had a family history and adhered to all these behaviors, about six of every 1,000 women got breast cancer over a year’s time,” he said.

In comparison, about seven of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer each year if they had a late-onset family history and followed none of the behaviors.

Among women without a family history who followed all three habits, about 3.5 of every 1,000 were diagnosed with breast cancer annually, compared to about 4.6 per 1,000 per year for those without a family history who followed none of the habits.

For his study, Gramling considered regular physical activity to be 20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week. Moderate alcohol intake was defined as fewer than seven drinks a week. A healthy body weight was defined in the standard way, having a body mass index, or BMI, of 18.5 to under 25.

Gramling hopes his research will reverse the thinking of women whose mother or sister had breast cancer who sometimes believe they are doomed to develop the disease, too.

The findings echo what other experts have known, said Dr. Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society, who reviewed the study findings.

“The results of this study show that both women with a family history [late-onset] and without will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, and consuming lower amounts of alcohol, limiting their alcohol consumption,” she said.

The American Cancer Society guidelines for reducing breast cancer risk include limiting alcohol to no more than a drink a day, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in 45 to 60 minutes of “intentional physical activity” five or more days a week.

The risk reduction effects found in the Gramling study may actually increase if women follow the more intense exercise guidelines of the ACS, Gapstur said.

To learn more about breast cancer risk factors, visit the American Cancer Society web site here.

8 Tips for Eating Healthy During Menopause

Good news! Aging does not have to equal weight gain. Women do tend to put on a pound a year in their 40s and 50s, but it’s more likely due to a drop in activity rather than hormones. However, hormonal changes can shift your body composition, so any pounds you do gain tend to land in your middle. Here are some tips from Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RD, that were first published on Health.com:

Here are some ways to stay slim, reduce menopausal symptoms, and cut the health risks that can rise after menopause.

1) Go fish

Heart disease risk is likely to rise after menopause, so you should try to eat at least two servings of fish per week (preferably those with healthy fats like salmon or trout).

“Women may want to give [fish oil] supplements a try if having two servings of fish a week is problematic,” says JoAnn Manson, MD, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston.

Preliminary research suggests that fish oil may also help prevent breast cancer.

Aim for two servings of fish a week—and talk to your doctor about whether or not you should try a supplement.

2) Slim down

If you’re overweight you can minimize menopausal symptoms and reduce the long-term risks of declining hormones by losing weight, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine, in New Haven, Conn.

Slimming down not only reduces the risks of heart disease and breast cancer, both of which go up after menopause, says Dr. Minkin, but new research shows that it may also help obese or overweight women cut down on hot flashes.

3) Bone up on calcium

Your calcium needs go up after age 50, from 1,000 milligrams per day to 1,200 mg. “With less estrogen on board, your bones don’t absorb calcium as well,” says Dr. Minkin.

If you have a cup of low-fat milk, one latte, and one 8-ounce yogurt, you’re getting around 1,100 mg calcium. This means you need to take only an additional 100 mg of supplements a day—less than one caplet’s worth—to make up the difference.

If you’re eating dairy, choose low-fat products. These have roughly the same amount of calcium as their full-fat counterparts, but with fewer calories.

4) Ease bloating

“About 100% of my patients going through menopause complain of bloating,” says Dr. Minkin. Although the reasons aren’t clear, fluctuating hormones during perimenopause may play a role.

Dr. Minkin recommends cutting the amount of salt and processed carbohydrates in your diet, as they can make you retain water. But don’t skimp on whole grains, which are rich in heart-healthy fiber, as well as fruits and vegetables.

If healthy food, such as apples and broccoli, make you feel bloated, Dr. Minkin suggests taking Mylanta or Gas-X to combat gas buildup.

5) Rethink that drink

Red wine gets a lot of press for its impact on heart health, but for menopausal women the drawbacks of alcohol might outweigh the benefits.

“One drink a day has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer,” says Dr. Manson. “So while it has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, it really is a trade-off for women.”

If you enjoy a glass of Pinot, try watering it down with seltzer to make a spritzer (you’ll cut calories too). Also keep in mind that red wine and other drinks may bring on hot flashes as a result of the increase in blood-vessel dilation caused by alcohol.

6) Say yes to soy

Soy contains plant estrogens, so many women think it can increase their breast cancer risk, says Dr. Minkin. However, there is little data to support this. The misconception likely comes from studies of high-dose soy supplements, which may stimulate the growth of estrogen-sensitive tumors.

Soy foods like tofu, soy nuts, and soy milk may offer relief from mild hot flashes and are not thought to increase breast cancer risk. “Women in Japan have the highest soy intake and the lowest risk of breast cancer, but Japanese women who move to the U.S. and eat less soy have a higher risk,” adds Dr. Minkin.

7) Try iced herbal tea

A warm cup of joe might be as much a part of your a.m. routine as brushing your teeth. Still, starting your day with a piping-hot drink may not be the best idea during menopause.

“In general, warm beverages seem to trigger hot flashes,” says Dr. Manson. “And the caffeine in coffee and tea could also be having an effect.”

Cover your bases by swapping your morning cup with something cool and decaffeinated—like a Tazo Shaken Iced Passion Tea at Starbucks or a decaf iced coffee.

8) Find a diet that fits

If you need to shed pounds, weight loss is no different during menopause than before it. “If you take in less calories than you burn for a long period of time, you’re going to lose weight,” says Dr. Minkin.

Any balanced diet that cuts calories—and that you can stick with in the long run—will do the job.

However, one study found that postmenopausal women who were on a diet that was low in fat and high in carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, and grain were less likely to gain weight than women who ate more fat. Consider the new CarbLovers Diet which is rich in whole grains and other figure-friendly foods.

The Ten Commandments of Preventive Medicine – Part 6 – Alcohol

In my latest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize these ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine. Here’s the sixth installment of this ten-part series. Continue reading

Daily drinking of beer or liquor raises risk of several cancers

Men who drink beer or liquor on a regular basis may face a heightened risk of several different types of cancer, a new study suggests. But, wine does NOT appear to have this risk. Continue reading

Moderate Wine, Little Meat, Many Vegetables May Be Key Mediterranean Diet Items Linked to Longer Life

We know a Mediterranean diet is healthy and lengthens life. But, which items in this diet are most helpful? Well, finally, at study has teased out items in the Mediterranean diet that are most responsible.

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12 Ways to Live Longer

When I wrote my book, 10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People, I included information on how people can make decisions that will affect the quantity and quality of their lives. Here’s a redux of a number of studies on longevity (adapted from an article from Fox News).

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Research suggests wine neither increases nor reduces breast cancer risk

In a recent blog I told you about a study of more than 1.2 million women in the UK that concluded that alcohol consumption may account for nearly 13% of all breast, liver, rectal, and upper digestive tract cancers in women. The study found that even relatively small amounts of alcohol appear to raise cancer risk. But, what about wine? Does it carry the same risk?

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Study indicates moderate alcohol consumption increases women’s risk of cancer

A study on more than 1.2 million women in the UK finds that alcohol consumption may account for nearly 13% of all breast, liver, rectal, and upper digestive tract cancers in women.  Even relatively small amounts of alcohol appear to raise cancer risk.  

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Foods And Medications You Shouldn’t Mix

If you’re taking particular prescription medications, they may not be as effective as they could be if you eat certain foods. That’s because of the way those drugs interact with the foods.

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