No matter what age, you can take steps now towards better health and feeling great. Even small changes can make a big difference to how you feel. Healthy living is within your reach, starting today. Sure, healthy living is a long-term commitment, not a flash-in-the-pan fad. But there are steps you can take right now. Here's your checklist of practical healthy living tips that are ready to go.
Healthy Living Tips:
All humans have to eat food for growth and maintenance of a healthy body, but we humans have different requirements as infants, children (kids), teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors. For example, infants may require feeding every four hours until they gradually age and begin to take in more solid foods. Eventually they develop into the more normal pattern of eating three times per day as young kids. However, as most parents know, kids, teenagers, and young adults often snack between meals.
- Eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner); it is important to remember that dinner does not have to be the largest meal.
- The bulk of food consumption should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts (with emphasis on beans and nuts).
- Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars; look at the labels because the first listed items on the labels comprise the highest concentrations of ingredients.
- Control portion sizes; eat the smallest portion that can satisfy hunger and then stop eating.
- Snacks are OK in moderation and should consist of items like fruit, whole grains, or nuts to satisfy hunger and not cause excessive weight gain.
- Avoid sodas and sugar-enhanced drinks because of the excessive calories in the sodas and sugar drinks; diet drinks may not be a good choice as they make some people hungrier and increase food consumption.
- Avoid eating a large meal before sleeping to decrease gastroesophageal reflux and weight gain.
- If a person is angry or depressed, eating will not solve these situations and may make the underlying problems worse.
- Avoid rewarding children with sugary snacks; such a pattern may become a lifelong habit for people.
- Avoid heavy meals in the summer months, especially during hot days.
- A vegetarian lifestyle has been promoted for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss; vegetarians should check with their physicians to be sure they are getting enough vitamins, minerals, and iron in their food.
- Cooking foods (above 165 F) destroys most harmful bacteria and other pathogens; if you choose to eat uncooked foods like fruits or vegetables, they should be thoroughly washed with running treated (safe to drink) tap water right before eating.
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats of any type.
Healthy Living Tips for special situations:
- People with diabetes should use the above tips and monitor their glucose levels as directed; try to keep the daily blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
- With unusual work schedules (night shifts, college students, military) should try to adhere to a breakfast, lunch, and dinner routine with minimal snacking.
- Men who prepare food should avoid using grease or frying foods in grease.
- To lose weight (body fat) one should avoid all fatty and sugary foods and eat mainly vegetables, fruits, and nuts and markedly reduce his/her intake of meat and dairy products.
- Seek medical advice early if you cannot control your weight, food intake, or if you have diabetes and cannot control your blood glucose levels.
Sleep Better For Healthy Living:
If you have trouble sleeping, try these tips from sleep medicine specialist Lisa Shives, MD, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Ill.
- No TV or computer two hours before bedtime. It's not just because the TV and computer are stimulating; it's also because of their light. “We're very sensitive to the cue that light gives you that it's time to be up and about,” Shives says. She recommends light, calming reading lit by a lamp that doesn't shine directly into your eyes.
No heavy exercise close to bedtime. Light stretching is OK, but vigorous activity will heat up your body's core temperature, which makes it harder to sleep. “If you're working up a sweat, you're working too hard right before bed,” Shives says.
- Take a hot bath. That will heat up your core body temperature, but when you get out of the bath, your core temperature will fall, which may help you get to sleep. Plus, the bath “relaxes you mentally,” Shives says. She adds that having a hot, noncaffeinated drink, such as chamomile tea, may also help.
- Set a regular sleep schedule. When Shives treats insomnia patients, she tells them that although they can't make themselves fall asleep, they can make themselves get up at a certain time the next morning. And though they may be tired at first, if they don't nap, they may start sleeping better during the following nights. “We're going to get nowhere if they take big naps during the day and keep a very erratic sleep schedule; it's chaos then,” Shives says.
- Don't count on weekend catch-up sleep. If you have chronic sleep problems, you probably can't make up for that on the weekends. But if you generally sleep well and have a rough week, go ahead and sleep in on the weekend. “I actually think that's good for the body,” Shives says.
- Don't ignore chronic sleep problems. “Don't let sleep troubles linger for months or years. Get to a sleep specialist earlier rather than later, before bad habits set in,” Shives says.
- Prioritize good sleep. “This is as important as diet and exercise,” Shives says. She says that in our society, “we disdain sleep, we admire energy and hard work and [have] this notion that sleep is just something that gets in the way.”
Physical Activity and Exercise
Physical activity and exercise is a major contributor to a healthy lifestyle; people are made to use their bodies, and disuse leads to unhealthy living. Unhealthy living may manifest itself in obesity, weakness, lack of endurance, and overall poor health that may foster disease development.
- Regular exercise can prevent and reverse age-related decreases in muscle mass and strength, improve balance, flexibility, and endurance, and decrease the risk of falls in the elderly.It can help prevent coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Weight-bearing exercise can also help prevent osteoporosis by building bone strength.
- Exercise can help chronic arthritis sufferers improve their capacity to perform daily activities such as driving, climbing stairs, and opening jars.
- It can help increase self-esteem and self-confidence, decrease stress and anxiety, enhance mood, and improve general mental health.
- Daily exercise can help control weight gain and in some people cause loss of fat.
- Thirty minutes of modest exercise (walking is OK) at least three to five days a week is recommended, but the greatest health benefits come from exercising most days of the week.
- Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions.
- Start slowly and progress gradually to avoid injury or excessive soreness or fatigue. Over time, build up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
- People are never too old to start exercising. Even frail, elderly individuals (70-90 years of age) can improve their strength and balance with exercise.
- Almost any type of exercise (resistance, water aerobics, walking, swimming, weights, yoga, and many others) is helpful for everybody.
- Children need exercise; play outside of the home is a good beginning.
- Sports for children may provide excellent opportunities for exercise, but care must be taken not to overdo certain exercises (for example, throwing too many pitches in baseball may harm a joint like the elbow or shoulder).
- Exertion during strenuous exercise may make a person tired and sore, but if pain occurs, stop the exercise until the pain source is discovered; the person may need to seek medical help and advice about continuation of such exercise.
Most individuals can begin moderate exercise, such as walking, without a medical examination. The following people, however, should consult a doctor before beginning more vigorous exercise:
- Men over age 40 or women over age 50
- People with heart or lung disease, asthma, arthritis, or osteoporosis
- Individuals who experience chest pressure or pain with exertion, or who develop fatigue or shortness of breath easily
- Individuals with conditions that increase their risks of developing coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, or having family members who had early onset heart attacks and coronary heart disease
- Person who are morbidly obese
Improve Your Relationships
Healthy living isn't just about your personal habits for, say, diet and activity. It's also about your connections with other people — your social network.
DeWall, the University of Kentucky social psychologist, offers these tips for broadening your social network:
- Look for people like you. The details of their lives don't have to match yours, but look for a similar level of openness. “What really is important in terms of promoting relationship well-being is that you share a similar level of comfort in getting close to people,” DeWall says. For instance, he says that someone who needs a lot of reassurance might not find the best relationship with someone who's more standoffish. “Feel people out in terms of, ‘Does this person seem like me in terms of wanting to be close to other people?'” DeWall suggests.
- Spend time with people. “There's this emphasis in our culture that you need to be very independent — an army of one, you can get along on your own,” DeWall says. “Most people don't know their neighbors as much as they did 50 or 60 years ago.”
- Build both virtual and face-to-face relationships. DeWall isn't against having online connections to other people. “But I think long term, having all of your relationships online or virtual … would probably be something that wouldn't be as beneficial as having a mix” of having virtual and in-person relationships.
- If a close relationship is painful, get help. “Some of my work and some work that other people are doing suggest that … when you feel rejected by someone, that your body actually registers it as pain. So if I'm in a relationship that's really causing me a lot of pain, then we need to do something, we need to go and seek help,” DeWall says.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, after skin cancer. One in eight women in the United States (roughly 12%) will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer. Encouragingly, the death rate from breast cancer has declined a bit in recent years, perhaps due to greater awareness and screening for this type of cancer, as well as better treatments.
Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in breast tissue change (or mutate) and keep reproducing. These abnormal cells usually cluster together to form a tumor. A tumor is cancerous (or malignant) when these abnormal cells invade other parts of the breast or when they spread (or metastasize) to other areas of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes in the body that plays a role in fighting infection.
It usually starts in the milk-producing glands of the breast (called lobules) or the tube-shaped ducts that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less often, cancer begins in the fatty and fibrous connective tissue of the breast.
New cases are about 100 times more common in women than in men, but yes, men can get breast cancer too. Male breast cancer is rare, but anyone with breast tissue can develop breast cancer.
What causes breast cancer?
Breast cancer is caused by a genetic mutation in the DNA of breast cancer cells. How or why this damage occurs isn’t entirely understood. Some mutations may develop randomly over time, while others are inherited or may be the result of environmental exposures or lifestyle factors.
Most breast cancers are diagnosed in women over age 50, but it’s not clear why some women get breast cancer (including women with no risk factors) and others do not (including those who do have risk factors).
Some breast cancer risks may be preventable. Of course, you cannot control every variable that may influence your risk. Here are the key breast cancer risk factors to know.
- Age and gender. If you are a woman and you’re getting older, you may be at risk of developing breast cancer. The risk begins to climb after age 40 and is highest for women in their 70s.
- Family history. Having a close blood relative with breast cancer increases your risk of developing the disease. A woman’s breast cancer risk is almost double if she has a mom, sister, or daughter with breast cancer and about triple if she has two or more first-degree relatives with breast cancer.
- A breast cancer gene mutation. Up to 10% of all breast cancers are thought to be inherited, and many of these cases are due to defects in one or more genes, especially the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. (Scientists are studying several other gene mutations as well.) In the U.S., BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are more common in Jewish women of Eastern European descent. Having these defective genes doesn’t mean you will get breast cancer, but the risk is greater: A woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer with a BRCA1 gene mutation, for example, may be more like 55% to 65% compared to the average 12%.
- Breast changes and conditions. Women with dense breasts or with a personal history of breast lumps, a previous breast cancer, or certain non-cancerous breast conditions are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not have these conditions.
- Race/ethnicity. White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than Asian, Hispanic, and African American women. But African American women are more likely to develop more aggressive breast cancer at a younger age and both African American and Hispanic women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
- Hormones. Women with early menstrual periods (starting before age 12) and late menopause (after age 55) are at greater risk of getting breast cancer. Scientists think their longer exposure to the female hormone estrogen may be a factor, because estrogen stimulates growth of the cells of the breast. Likewise, use of hormone therapy after menopause appears to boost the risk of breast cancer. Oral birth control pills have been linked to a small increase in breast cancer risk compared with women who never used hormonal contraception. But that risk is temporary: More than 10 years after stopping the pill, a woman’s breast cancer risk returns to average.
- Weight. Women who are overweight or obese after menopause are more likely to get breast cancer. The exact reason why isn’t clear, but it may be due to higher levels of estrogen produced by fat cells after menopause. Being overweight also boosts blood levels of insulin, which may affect breast cancer risk.
- Alcohol consumption. Studies suggest women who drink two or more alcoholic beverages a day are 1 1/2 times more likely than non-drinkers to develop breast cancer. The risk rises with greater alcohol intake, and alcohol is known to increase the risk of other cancers too. For that reason, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women stick to one drink a day–or less.
- Radiation exposure. A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer may be higher than normal if she had chest radiation for another disease as a child or young adult.
Pregnancy history. Having no children or having a first child after age 30 may increase your risk of breast cancer.
- DES exposure. Women who were given the now-banned drug diethylstilbestrol to prevent miscarriage decades ago face a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, as do their daughters.
Scientists are studying a slew of other factors to determine what role, if any, they may play in the development of breast cancer. There’s not enough evidence to say for sure whether smoking, dietary fat, or environmental exposure to certain chemicals, for example, ramp up the risk for breast cancer because study results to date are mixed.
Breast cancer symptoms
Breast cancer symptoms vary from one person to the next. Knowing what your breasts normally look and feel like may help you recognize possible signs and symptoms.
What does breast cancer feel like?
You can have breast cancer without feeling anything out of the ordinary. But, if you find an area of thickening breast tissue, a lump in your breast (usually painless, but not always) or an enlarged underarm lymph node, see your physician.
What does breast cancer look like?
You may notice a change in the shape or size of your breast. You could have an area of skin that dimples or a nipple that leaks fluid.
Often, there are no early warning signs of breast cancer. Even if you develop a lump, it may be too small to feel. That’s why breast cancer screening, typically using mammography, is so important. Early signs and symptoms of breast cancer that some women and men might experience include:
- New lump in the breast or armpit, with or without pain. Lumps are often hard but can be soft as well. (Not all lumps are breast cancer. Some lumps may be noncancerous changes or benign, fluid-filled cysts, but they should be checked by your physician.)
- Change in breast size or shape. Look for swelling, thickening, or shrinkage, especially in one breast.
- Dimpling, pitting, or redness. Breast skin may take on the appearance of an orange peel.
- Peeling, flaking, or scaling breast skin.
- Red, thick, or scaly nipple.
- Breast, nipple, or armpit pain.
- Inverted nipple. Look for a nipple that turns inward or flattens.
- Nipple discharge. It may be clear or bloody.
- Redness or unusual warmth. This can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of the disease.
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone, which could be a sign that breast cancer has spread.
Screening and diagnosis for breast cancer
With breast cancer, early detection is key. The earlier the disease is diagnosed the less it has progressed, and the better the outcome with treatment.
A screening mammogram (a type of breast X-ray) can identify the presence of cancer, often before symptoms arise. Women at high risk for breast cancer may also be screened with other imaging tests, like a breast MRI.
Medical organizations and breast cancer advocacy groups urge women to undergo routine screening to find and treat breast cancer early. But experts do not agree on exactly when to begin screening or how frequently women should be tested.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (an alliance of cancer centers) recommends annual screening beginning at age 40.
The ACS says women ages 40 to 44 should have the option to begin screening every year. It recommends annual screening for women ages 45 to 54. At 55, a woman can decide to continue annual screening or go for her mammogram every other year for as long as she is healthy and has 10 more years of life to live.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises women 40 to 49 to talk to their health care provider about when to start screening and how often to be screened. For women 50 to 74, it recommends a mammogram every two years.
Women at high risk of developing breast cancer should be screened earlier and more often. The ACS recommends annual mammograms and breast MRIs starting at age 30 for women with a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer, including those with a known breast cancer gene mutation or a first-degree relative with an inherited breast cancer gene mutation.
Since men have less breast tissue and less breast cancer, they are not routinely screened for the disease. If there is a strong family history of breast cancer or a known breast cancer gene mutation in the family, a man might consider having genetic testing to see if he has a mutation that increases his risk for male breast cancer.
Men who are at high risk for breast cancer should talk to their health care provider about having their breasts examined during routine checkups and doing breast self-exams.
Male or female, it is helpful to know what your breasts normally look and feel like so that you can report any changes to your doctor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends “breast self-awareness,” meaning knowing what’s normal for your own breasts and paying attention to any changes you may feel.
Regular breast self-exams are no longer recommended as a routine screening method for women because there isn’t sufficient evidence that they offer any early detection or survival benefits.
But should women still have their breasts examined by a doctor every year? Some medical groups see no clear benefit of a clinical breast exam, while others continue to recommend one every year as part of a routine checkup.
Diagnosing breast cancer
An abnormal finding on a screening mammogram or discovering a lump or other breast changes doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer.
First, your doctor will need to perform follow-up testing using one or more types of scans. A diagnostic mammogram, which involves more X-rays than a screening mammogram, can offer a more detailed view of the area of concern. Two other tests, a breast MRI or a breast ultrasound, may be ordered to gather additional diagnostic information.
There is only one way to confirm a cancer diagnosis. You will need a biopsy to extract cells or tissue from the area of the breast that is causing concern. A fine needle may be used to remove cells or tissue, or you may undergo a surgical procedure to remove a piece of breast tissue.
A pathologist will use these specimens to look for cancer under a microscope and may perform additional testing on the tissue sample. The pathology findings can confirm whether or not you have breast cancer and what your chances of beating it–your prognosis–may be. This information can help your medical team (your doctor, your surgeon, your radiologist, and other providers) determine the best course of treatment.
You and your doctor need to know the type of breast cancer you have to get the best outcome. Your treatment will depend on where your cancer started, whether it has invaded other breast tissue or spread to other parts of your body, and whether hormones like estrogen or progesterone fuel its growth, among other factors.
Most breast cancers are carcinomas, or cancers that start in cells lining the organs or tissues. “In situ” breast cancers haven’t spread to surrounding tissue, which makes them more treatable, while “invasive” breast cancers have invaded surrounding tissue. “Metastatic” breast cancer means it has spread to other parts of your body, such as the lungs, bones, liver, or brain. And “recurrent” breast cancer means breast cancer has returned.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
This highly treatable pre-cancer (sometimes called “stage 0” breast cancer) starts in a milk duct. It’s the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer, meaning the cells are abnormal but haven’t spread to the surrounding tissue. Over time, DCIS may progress to invasive breast cancer.
Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC)
This is the most common breast cancer, accounting for 80% of all invasive breast cancer diagnoses. Also called “infiltrating ductal carcinoma,” IDC starts in a milk duct, breaks through the duct wall, and invades the surrounding breast tissue. It can spread to other parts of the body as well. There are also several subtypes of IDC, which are categorized based on features of the tumors that form.
Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)
This type of breast cancer begins in the milk-producing glands, called lobules. Also known as “infiltrating lobular carcinoma,” ILC can spread beyond the lobules into surrounding breast tissue and metastasize to other parts of the body. It accounts for about 10% of invasive breast cancers.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
LCIS, also called lobular neoplasia, starts in the milk-producing lobules. Technically, it’s not breast cancer (even though it has carcinoma in its name), but rather a collection of abnormal cells. People with LCIS are more likely to develop breast cancer in the future.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)
This rare, aggressive type of breast cancer causes redness and swelling of the breast. The affected breast can feel warm, heavy, and tender. The skin may become hard or ridged like an orange rind. See a doctor right away if you have these symptoms. Inflammatory breast cancer tends to strike five years earlier, on average, than other types of breast cancer, and it might not show up on a mammogram. African American women are at greater risk for IBC than white women.
Paget disease of the breast (or the nipple)
This rare cancer affects the skin of the nipple and the darker circle of skin, called the areola, surrounding it. People with Paget disease may notice the nipple and areola becoming scaly, red, or itchy. They may also notice yellow or bloody discharge coming from the nipple. Most people who have this condition also have one or more tumors (either DCIS or invasive cancer) in the same breast.
Metaplastic breast cancer
This rare, invasive breast cancer begins in a milk duct and forms large tumors. It may contain a mix of cells that look different than typical breast cancers and can be more difficult to diagnose.
Angiosarcoma of the breast
This quickly growing cancer is rare. It is usually a complication of a prior radiation treatment of the breast.
Breast cancer subtypes
Breast cancers can also be classified by their genetic makeup. Knowing your cancer’s hormone receptor and HER2 status can help guide treatment.
Hormone receptor positive breast cancer
Some breast cancers are fueled by the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone. Some are not. Knowing whether your cancer is sensitive to these hormones is a crucial piece of the treatment equation. Hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells have proteins called hormone receptors that attach to estrogen and/or progesterone circulating in your body. Hormonal therapies may be used to fight hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. All invasive breast cancers and DCIS should be tested for hormone status, according to the ACS.
HER2-positive breast cancer
Some breast cancers have higher levels of a protein that promotes cancer growth called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Using certain medicines that target HER2 can help kill the cancer.
Triple negative breast cancer
Triple negative breast cancer is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, and HER2-negative. Using hormone therapies or HER2 drugs will not slow these aggressive cancers. Triple negative breast cancer is more common among Hispanic and African American women, as well as younger women.
Triple positive breast cancer
Cancers that are positive for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2 can be treated with hormone therapies and drugs that target HER2.
Breast cancer stages
All breast cancers are assigned a stage based on biopsy results plus other findings from blood tests and imaging scans. Staging can help you and your medical team make decisions about appropriate treatment and understand your chances of survival.
Breast cancer stages reflect the size of the tumor, whether it is invasive, whether it has reached the lymph nodes (glands that are part of the body’s immune system), and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
Stage 4 breast cancer
At Stage 4, breast cancer has traveled to distant sites in the body, often the bones, liver, brain, or lungs. This is called metastatic breast cancer. Although this stage is considered incurable, new treatments allow patients to live longer with their disease.
Stage 3 breast cancer
Stage 3 breast cancer is an advanced cancer. It’s in the lymph nodes but has not spread to other organs. This stage is divided into three categories, 3A, 3B and 3C, based on the size of the tumor and how many and which lymph nodes are involved.
Stage 2 breast cancer
At Stage 2, breast cancer is growing but is only in the breast or nearby lymph nodes. This stage has two categories, 2A and 2B, based on how large the tumor is and whether or not it has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 1 breast cancer
Stage 1 is an invasive cancer, meaning it is invading healthy breast tissue, but it has not spread outside the breast. This stage also has two categories, 1A and 1B, based on whether there is any evidence of small clusters of breast cancer cells in nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 0 breast cancer
Also called pre-cancer, this is the earliest stage of breast cancer. It involves abnormal cells that have not spread into breast tissue from the ducts or lobules where they began. Stage 0 breast cancer also has not spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Stage 0 breast cancer is non-invasive, like ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).
Breast cancer treatment
Breast cancer treatment regimens differ widely based on the type of cancer, its stage, its sensitivity to hormones, the patient’s age and health, and other factors. Treatments for men and women are similar.
Surgery and radiation therapy are mainstays of breast cancer treatment. These are known as “local therapies” because they target the tumor without affecting the rest of the body.
With a breast-conserving surgery called a lumpectomy, only the portion of the breast containing cancer is removed. A mastectomy involves removing the entire breast and possibly some of the surrounding tissue. Lymph nodes may be removed as part of breast cancer surgery or a separate operation.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy waves to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It may be recommended for patients who have breast cancer surgery or whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Cancer-killing chemotherapy medicines are delivered intravenously (into a vein) or taken by mouth. Chemo may be given before or after surgery. It’s also used in treating advanced cancer cases. Because these medicines travel through the bloodstream, they can have significant side effects, including mouth sores, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Some breast cancers are sensitive to hormones produced in the body. In these hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, estrogen and/or progesterone fuels cancer growth. Hormone therapy can lower the body’s estrogen levels or stop hormones from binding to cancer cells. This category of breast cancer treatment includes the oral medicine tamoxifen, which is often given after surgery to women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.
Newer medicines, called targeted therapies, specifically attack cancer cells while sparing normal cells, meaning patients experience fewer side effects. Trastuzumab (Herceptin), for example, is a drug that starves HER2-positive breast cancers by blocking the HER2 protein.
Treatment outcomes may depend on the stage of cancer, a patient’s response to treatment, and other factors.
Generally speaking, stage 0 and 1 breast cancers are highly treatable. The five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer in these early stages is close to 100%. At stages 2 and 3, some 93% and 72% of women, respectively, can expect to live at least five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer is difficult to treat. The five-year survival rate is about 22%.
For men with breast cancer, the five-year survival rates are similar: 100% for stages 0 and 1, 91% for stage 2, 72% for stage 3, and 20% for stage 4.
Remember, breast cancer statistics are just averages. They don’t reflect an individual patient’s experience.
Breast cancer prevention
While no one can tell you how to prevent breast cancer with any sort of guarantee, there’s evidence to suggest that certain healthy lifestyle changes can lower your breast cancer risk.
- Limit your alcohol intake. The more you drink, the higher your risk of breast cancer.
- Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese boosts your breast cancer risk.
- Exercise. Women who work out regularly have a lower risk of breast cancer than less active women.
- Consider breastfeeding your baby. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer than moms who do not breastfeed their children.
- Reduce your hormone intake. Hormone therapy users are at higher risk for breast cancer. If you’re taking hormones to relieve menopausal symptoms, talk to your doctor about taking the lowest dose that works for you for the shortest time.
Patient advocates hope that greater breast cancer awareness will lead to earlier detection and better outcomes. You, too, can join the fight against breast cancer. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a great time to join a breast cancer walk near you.
A funny thing happens when you don’t get enough sleep: Your mind begins to play cruel jokes on you. It’s suddenly tempting you to eat all the donuts and cookies in sight. You need carbs just to comfort your cold, exhausted soul. You also start to snap at the ones you love, and you fantasize about diving into your bedsheets above all else.
Sleep is Queen. But so is paying the bills. Don’t worry, you can get through the day. Here’s some heart-to-heart advice from some pretty powerful women about winning at life, even when you don’t win at sleep.
Focus on your why
Michelle Lentz, 31, a police officer with the Greenville Police Department in South Carolina, had to work overtime during protests that occurred. At the time, she was still breastfeeding her 7-month-old daughter. “That was also my first experience with having to skip a pumping session because of work, and it was not comfortable, especially while wearing a ballistic vest,” she says.
And despite the fact that she was exhausted and couldn’t even rely on coffee to help her function, she says focusing on the important work she was doing helped keep her going.
“I hope to inspire in my daughter (and future children) that being honest and hardworking are great traits in any profession, whether it’s law enforcement, accounting, or otherwise,” explains Lentz. “I hope that she never feels that she’s incapable of a job because she’s a female, and that I can show her how to be successful at anything she puts her mind to,” she says.
Have no shame about doing what you gotta do to survive
There’s no sugarcoating some realities of living on the night shift. For example, Clair McLafferty, 28, is a Birmingham, Alabama-based bartender at The Marble Ring and author of “The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book.” She says that her job is “brutal” on her body.
The physical and emotional tolls of dealing with people and their problems — at times when most people are sleeping — isn’t an easy task. McLafferty finds that it takes a lot of work to calm her brain down after a shift.
She tries to connect with loved ones and friends for lunch dates, but has found that when it comes to doing what she has to do to recover and make it through her hectic schedule (she’s also a writer and math tutor), she has no qualms about claiming her alone time.
“Spending significant amounts of time with people can be difficult,” McLafferty explains. “Though I’m a bartender, I’m actually a very extroverted introvert, so a night of nonstop movement and professional social interaction can be draining.”
The day after a shift, she prefers to spend most of her time alone doing activities that don’t require anything above the bare minimum of human interaction. Even though it makes it difficult to maintain relationships, she says it’s important to recognize what you need to do to survive when you’re running on little sleep.
Eating a snack or two between meals can curb hunger so that you don’t inhale the dining room table when you finally sit down to supper. Snacking can also help you get in all the nutrients you need. On the flipside, grazing all day—particularly on foods of little nutritional value—may result in eating too much and packing on extra pounds. 2017 has been a banner year for healthy foods, with innovations in snacks, oils, desserts, and more. Whether you want chocolate that helps with weight loss or chips that heal your gut, this list of the best healthy snacks of the year so far has you covered.
Siete Nacho Chips
These chips are essentially the healthy Doritos of your dreams, with a satisfying crunch and a powdery, finger-coating cheesy flavor. They're made from high-fiber, gluten-free cassava flour and cooked in high-heat-safe, anti-inflammatory avocado oil, and that cheesiness you taste? That's from B-vitamin-rich, totally vegan nutritional yeast. The only problem with these chips is how addictive they are—once you open a bag, you might not be able to stop yourself.
Bare Chia Coconut Bites
These chia-studded crispy bites are the perfect yogurt or smoothie topper, although they're also amazing to eat on their own when you want a crunchy snack. They're sweet, salty, and crunchy, making them oh-so-satisfying for any craving. The chia adds extra fiber and good fat to the coconut's already solid profile, while the flavors (including vanilla and pineapple) add additional interest.
Simple Mills Chocolate Chip Crunchy Cookies
These ready-made chocolate chip cookies have one of the simplest, healthiest ingredient lists around, based around a prebiotic-rich tigernut, coconut, and almond flour blend. There's no refined sugar, no gluten, and no artificial flavor or preservatives (they use only a bit of rosemary extract to keep these cookies fresh). The flavor, though, is pure delight, with a snappy crunch and sweetly childhood-inducing bite.
Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Water
My obsession with collagen runs deep (I started drinking it to heal my gut, and it's since worked wonders on my hair, skin, and nails), and this new beauty water line is a genius way to incorporate it into any routine. It contains collagen, probiotics, and hyaluronic acid, which helps skin retain moisture. The flavors of the line are fabulously spa-worthy, with Lavender Lemon, Melon Mint, and Cucumber Aloe. They can be added to smoothies or simply dissolved in water and drunk on their own, preferably while you're wrapped in a fluffy robe.
Farmhouse Culture Kraut Krisps
If there's a better way to get your probiotics than a savory, crunchy chip, I haven't yet found it. The first ingredient in these chips is dried sauerkraut, which may sound strange but adds just the right amount of tang to each bite. Each gluten-free serving contains 1 billion CFUs of probiotics, and the flavors, which mimic the Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut types, are out of this world. Try the Dill Pickle or the Zesty Garden Veggie—you won't be disappointed.
Eating Evolved Keto Cups
Whether you're dabbling with a keto diet or you just want to embrace healthier dessert options, these cups are a deceptively healthy delight. Eating Evolved is committed to embracing the motto “Chocolate: It's Food, Not Candy,” and these cups do just that, with only four simple ingredients (organic cacao, organic coconut butter, MCT oil, and vanilla extract). Keep a stash in your freezer for whenever a chocolate craving strikes, and you'll never reach for the too-sweet stuff again.
The Coconut Cult Coconut Yogurt
The yogurt that's taken Instagram by storm. Each of these dairy-free quarts contains over 800 billion human-strain probiotics. Meant to be consumed more as a supplement than as straight yogurt, it's delightfully tangy (almost effervescently so) and pretty damn addictive. It also completely changed my digestion
Butter coffee has quickly caught on in the wellness industry, for all the right reasons. This plant-based superfood beverage is made of black coffee blended with grass-fed butter and MCT or coconut oil. Some swear by starting their day with this hot and unique cup of coffee because they say it helps suppress hunger, promotes weight loss, and provides some mental clarity. It is the bulletproof coffee nutrition everyone desires and can't wait to get their hands on.
But what to do if you're plant-based?
Whether you eat a vegan diet, or butter and dairy simply aren’t your thing, how do you hop on this trend? What if you don't do coffee or caffeine?
Well, I’m here today to share something I am quite excited about—My Plant-Based, Coffee-Less, Dark Chocolate Superfood Latte. Alert the press: This is going to be the next hot thing in the wellness space.
For staters, inside this sweet and satisfying latte are a handful of ingredients I like to have daily for their wide range of health benefits. I use Califia Farms Almondmilk Creamer instead of the traditional butter to make this creamy and satisfying while keeping things plant-based. I also love that Califia Farms Almondmilk Creamers are low in sugar despite their seriously dreamy flavors. They're also non-GMO; carrageenan-free; and have no gluten, dairy, or soy (all super important in my book!).
Here’s how I make it:
Coffee-Less, Butter-Less, Adaptogenic Latte
- Use ½ cup of Califia Farms Unsweetened Almondmilk
- Add ½ teaspoon of cacao powder
- Use ½ cup of hot water (you can also use Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffee heated up, but it won’t be caffeine-free then!)
- Add 2 tablespoons of Califia Farms Almondmilk Creamer (I used the unsweetened)
- Add ½ teaspoon maca powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut or MCT oil
- Add ½ teaspoon of ashwagandha powder
- Also ½ teaspoon of vanilla bean powder
- And finally ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
Add ingredients to the blender.
Blend on high for about 30 to 60 seconds or until the tea, Almondmilk Creamer, oil, etc., mix well.
Pour into your favorite cup and enjoy!
Decades of research show that yoga can reduce the emotional and physical fatigue brought on by cancer treatment. Now researchers have shown for the first time that’s also true specifically for men being treated for prostate cancer. Serving as a natural treatment for prostate cancer, men who took a yoga class twice a week during treatment reported less fatigue, fewer sexual side effects, and better urinary functioning than men who did not, according a new study. “The data are convincing,” said the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Neha Vapiwala, an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. “What we need now is a better understanding of how and why yoga produces these benefits.”
Vapiwala and her colleagues enrolled 50 men with early or advanced non-metastatic prostate cancer who ranged in age from 53 to 85. Among them, 22 were assigned to the yoga group and the rest were not. All the men got scheduled radiation treatments during the study, 29 were also on hormonal therapy, and 19 had previously been treated surgically for prostate cancer. The groups were evenly balanced with respect to cancer treatments, in addition to other possible treatments for erectile and urinary problems. Men who already practiced yoga or were treated previously with radiation were ineligible for the study, as were men with metastatic prostate cancer.
No Experience Needed
The type of yoga assessed in the study, called Eischens yoga, focuses on holding and maintaining poses. “And it’s accessible for all body types and experience levels and allows for hands-on guidance from instructors,” Vapiwala said. The sessions lasted 75 minutes each and incorporated sitting, standing, and reclining positions matched to each man’s needs and abilities.
Before, during, and after the nine-week study, men in both the yoga and control groups were asked to rate their fatigue, sexual health (including but not limited to erectile functioning), and urinary symptoms.
Men in the yoga group reported improving or stabilizing symptom scores over time, whereas men in the non-yoga group reported worsening symptoms. “Ordinarily, you’d expect symptom scores to decline with continuing treatment,” Vapiwala said. “But in the yoga group, the changes were notably positive.”
Vapiwala speculates that yoga improves erectile and urinary function by strengthening core muscles and improving blood flow. Asked how she’d counsel a man who’s considering yoga during cancer treatment, Vapiwala said, “Regardless of how you view your own fitness, it’s important to keep an open mind. There’s something to be said for finding the right group and the right instructor. But you might be surprised at what you can do!”
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