Saturday, November 11, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Green tea has been found to contain the flavonoid EGCg, a potent antioxidant. Black tea has similar disease-preventing effects, reports biochemist Allan Conney of Rutgers University. Researchers have not yet determined whether decaffeination removes tea’s health benefits. In one Dutch study, men who drank between four and five cups of black tea a day had a nearly 70 percent reduced risk of stroke compared with those who drank two cups or less. Another 1993 study reported that higher black-tea consumption corresponded with fewer fatal heart attacks. “The key protective factor does appear to be the flavonoids,” says John Folts, director of the University of Wisconsin Medical School’s Coronary Artery Thrombosis Research and Prevention Center. He has found that black-tea flavonoids inhibit blood platelets from clumping, preventing the dangerous clots that lead to almost all heart attacks and most strokes. Other studies have found that some tea drinkers have lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure—although it’s unclear if tea is the actual cause.
More than 20 studies on animals have indicated that tea may prevent some cancers, including those of the digestive and respiratory tracts and the skin. Once again, polyphenols are thought to be the major disease-preventing ingredients. “Along with eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking tea may turn out to be a cheap and practical way to reduce the risk of certain cancers,” asserts Weisburger.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found that applying green tea was up to 90 percent effective in preventing sunburns, which can lead to skin cancer. Says dermatologist Hasan Mukhtar, who headed the unpublished study, “In the future I expect it to be an ingredient in sunscreens.” Scientists caution, though, that tea may be protective against some cancers but not others because of the disease’s different causes.
Finally, since tea contains fluoride, it can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent tooth decay. In laboratory studies, Japanese researchers found that tea also keeps dental plaque from forming and kills some oral bacteria that can cause gum disease.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Peace of Mind
- Set aside "private time" - Something as simple as soaking in the tub can renew your mind and body. For added relaxation, turn down the lights and play some soft music.
- Learn relaxation techniques. - Read a book about it, or take a meditation or yoga class. Here's one you can try at home. Find 15 minutes where you will not be disturbed to meditate, visualize, etc. Sit in a comfortable chair, feet on the floor, arms at your sides. Breathe in deeply, through your nose. Then slowly release air through your mouth and repeat an affirmation, like "Relax... Relax... Relax," or "I'm confident... I'm confident..." Continue breathing in and out, focusing on your word or phrase for the 15 minutes. Visualize the person you want to be, already in possession of your goals. If a worrisome thought pops up, acknowledge it, then re-focus on your breathing.
- Schedule "worry sessions." - Set aside a specific 15 minutes each day when you'll concentrate on everything that's bothering you. When worries pop up during the day, save them for these 15 minutes. Then picture yourself conquering a particular challenge. It's not easy, but it's simple and it works.
- Keep a journal - New studies suggests that people who are able to write about their innermost feelings may enjoy better mental and physical health. Writing is also a powerful tool that helps you organize your thoughts and make life a little bit easier.
- Pep up with a scent. - When you need an energy boost, take a whiff of muguet or peppermint oil. Preliminary studies suggest these scents can promote alertness. Try!
- Power naps. - 15-20 minutes can be very energizing and rejuvenating. Careful - more than 20 minutes and you'll wake up more tired than you were to begin with.
- Delegate. - On your weekly calendar, eliminate the least important tasks and activities. Delegate household chores. Have your spouse/significant other to the grocery shopping. Even if things aren't done the way you want them done, it's important for everyone to pitch in so you don't feel like the Lone Ranger.
- Reward yourself- Every day engage in a just-for-you activity, provided you accomplished something you set out to do for that day. Rent a movie, read, gardening, etc. You'll not only boost your self-esteem, you'll also enjoy the well-deserved feelings of relaxation.
- Laugh. - Laughter really is good medicine. Laughing raises your heart rate, stimulates circulation, exercises your diaphragm, abs, and other muscles, and increases production of certain hormones that serve as your body's natural painkillers. Watch a sitcom, read humorous books, get Reader's Digest.
- Cry - Feel better a good cry? studies show that the tears you produce when you're anxious, upset, sad, or angry contains stress-relieving hormones.
- Get a body massage. - Various massage techniques reduce stress, loosen tight muscles, and rev up your energy. Massage also helps release endorphins ("feel good" chemicals released by the brain), triggering relaxation.
Stress-Reducing, Energy-Boosting Nutrition
- Do Not Skip meals. - Spreading your calories out over 4-6 balanced meals a day gives you the carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals required to keep your energy high by keeping your blood sugar levels stable.
- Eat a "good mood" breakfast. - Combine a high- protein food, such as cottage cheese, with a fiber-rich carb, like strawberries. Protein not only boosts your brain's production of dopamine and norepinephrine - chemicals that keep you alert - it also controls levels of relaxation-inducing serotonin. The carbs help you feel calm and focused on whatever you're doing.
- Have a midmorning muffin. - USE THIS ONLY IF ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Instead of heading for the vending machine, bring a low-fat, whole grain muffin topped with a teaspoon of jam. Carbs combined with a limited amount of sugar can restore mental energy.
- Quick, low-fat lunch. - Broiled fish, skinless chicken, tuna, deli turkey or chicken with a teaspoon of low-fat mayo on whole-grain bread can give you energy for the afternoon.
- Beat the mid-afternoon lag. - If you're droopy by 3 pm, have a cup of coffee to get back on track. (I don't suggest doing this very often, either. It's quite possible you need to catch up with some Z's.)
- Make dinner your lightest meal. - If you've eaten a balanced, substantial lunch, you'll feel surprisingly satisfied with a light dinner. Instead of a regular dinner plate, use a smaller plate and fill it up (not mounding!) with your protein and carbs.
- Watch the caffeine - A little caffeine is okay for a little boost. Too much and you're making your adrenal glands work overtime. You'll need more caffeine for the desired effect, and the crash when it wears off get worse, Plus you get restless and irritable.
- Cut back on sugar and starches. - You all know about the "sugar high." When you drop, you feel cranky, weak, and unable to concentrate. Stick with balanced snacks and meals to keep your blood sugar level.
- No alcohol - some of you yell at me for saying this; too bad. Sure, it may help in keeping your heart healthy, but so does eating right and exercising regularly. Like sugar alcohol gives you a high, and then you crash. Also leaves you feeling lethargic.
- Aerobic exercise daily. - Along with cardiovascular health, aerobic exercise boosts production of endorphins. 25-30 minutes can significantly reduce stress and increase energy.
- Deep breathing. - Need a 1-minute regenerator? Sit in a quiet place, feet flat on the floor, arms at your sides. Breathe in deeply through your nose, filling your diaphragm (your stomach should protrude if you're doing it right). Breathe out slowly through your mouth. Do this for just 60 seconds.
- Shrug off tight shoulders. - Whenever you notice you're tense around your neck area and shoulders, shrug your shoulders ten times.
- Take a break to stretch - Alternating arms, reach upward, stretching toward the ceiling. Five times each side.
- Stretch neck tension away. - Touch your chin to your chest and hold for 2 seconds. Try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder (keep it relaxed - no reaching up!) and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat for the right ear/shoulder for 2 seconds. Repeat entire cycle if necessary.
- Stand up. - If you spend most of the day sitting at a desk, stand up once every hour for 20 minutes, and do any of the exercise mentioned above to relax and stimulate circulation.
- Take out your frustrations on the iron. - Pumping iron, that is. You've got all those stress hormones flowing around your body and they're not getting used up. Aerobic exercise may calm them down some, but new studies are showing lifting weights help you burn off those stress hormones more effectively.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Problem: I don't like to eat before my morning run, or right before a long bike ride, but then I gas out halfway through.
Solution: Eat on your feet.
You need some type of energy replacement when exercising, says exercise physiologist Eric Sternlicht, PhD. Since it's not recommended that you eat ( a full meal) two or three hours before you work out, the best thing to do is eat something while you exercise.
The best choices are small, easily assimilated foods that are nutritionally dense, such as sports drinks or bananas. Liquids are absorbed faster than solids, but if you want an energy bar, a few sips of water will aid digestion.
Problem: I don't recover from a tough cardio session as quickly as my training partners.
Solution: Run to the fridge.
After a long ride or run, when you eat is as important as what you eat. There is a window of opportunity one or two hours after exercise. If you eat during this period, you'll achieve faster muscle-glycogen resynthesis. The best ration of nutrients for recovery is 60 percent carbohydrates and 40 percent protein.
Problem: I camp during my workouts.
Solution: Go bananas ( or go cantaloupes, oranges or baked potatoes).
Cramping is usually caused by a mineral imbalance. The most important thing you can do to prevent muscle cramps is get more potassium in your diet.
Eating more bananas - and fruits and vegetables in general - is the best way of controlling the problem. Sports drink can also help you replenish what you sweat out.
If you are working out longer than 60 minutes, a sports drink works well in repleneshing lost fluids and electrolytes. They supply some carbohydrates necessary to reduce fatigue. Anything under 60 minutes: water is the answer. And don't forget to drink lots of water after your workout; 2 cups of water for every pound lost.
Problem: My muscles are constantly sore from weight training.
Solution: Eat your protein.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness is an inevitable part of weight training, but if you experience excessive or consistent pain after every workout, you neet to shake thing up. In dealing with DOMS, balanced nutrition is very important. You neet to get adequate protein to repair the damage that's been caused to your muscles. Other nutrients you can get through your diet, such as ginger and turmeric, can also help prevent DOMS.
Problem: I don't have the mental focus to get through my workout
Solution: Put protein on your plate
Try eating protein at lunch and cutting back on starchy carbs, such as pasta and rice. Protein contains the amino acid tyrosine, which boosts levels of dopamine and norepinephrine (cousins of adrenaline). It also blocks the absorption of carbohydrate-induced tryptophan, which can make you groggy. If you find yourself mentally laggin, try some tuna, cottage cheese or chicken an hour before to harness mental ability.
(Note: can you see just how important adequate protein is to your diet?)
Problem: I'm too wired from exercising to sleep at night.
Solution: Drink some warm you-know-what.
It sounds hokey, but warm milk does the trick. The tryptophan in milk will shut you down. Tryptophan is an amino acid and precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. Carbs boost serotonin, so add pasta, rice or potatoes to your post-training meals. You might also consider kava, an herbal relaxant.
- Don't compare yourself with the bouncing, buff bodies on the infomercial. They're most likely in their early 20's, blessed with killer genes, work out 3 hours a day, and are still paying off that last liposuction.
- Shy away from any product that boast you can burn 'up to' a certain number of calories. A person might be able to burn that many calories if you had an overactive thyroid and belonged to the World Wrestling Federation, but you'll likely burn just a fraction of the number of calories mentioned.
- Many of the products touted on infomercials can also be found in stores. But often the models on the infomercials are inferior makes of familiar merchandise, says Larry Weindruch, director of communications for the National Sporting Goods Association. Because the "fit" of a piece of fitness equipment is critical, you should never buy anything without trying it first.
- Think in small bites. Instead of resolving to morph yourself into Pamela Anderson Lee or Arnold Schwarzenegger, decide each day to accomplish a specific activity: work out right after waking up, walking to work, take stairs instead of elevator.
- Know thyself. You're more likely to keep up with activities you enjoy. Find something you like to do, and stick with it. Don't buy equipment you don't like.
- DCIS: Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
- LCIS: Lobular Carcinoma in Situ
- Invasive ductal carcinoma
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
- Inflamatory breast cancer
- Paget's disease
Early breast cancer causes no symptoms and is not painful. Usually breast cancer is discovered before any symptoms are present, either on mammography or by feeling a breast lump. A lump under the arm or above the collarbone that does not go away may be present. Other possible symptoms include breast discharge, nipple inversion and changes in the skin overlying the breast.
The mainstay of breast cancer treatment is surgery when the tumor is localized, with possible adjuvant hormonal therapy. At present, the treatment recommendations after surgery (adjuvant therapy) follow a pattern. This pattern may be adapted as every two years a worldwide conference takes place in St. Gallen, Switzerland to discuss the actual results of worldwide multi-center studies. Depending on clinical criteria (age, type of cancer, size, metastasis) patients are roughly divided to high risk and low risk cases which follow different rules for therapy. Treatment possibilities include Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, and Immune Therapy. An online resource for helping to quantify the relative risks and benefits of chemotherapy v. hormonal therapy is Adjuvant! In planning treatment, doctors can also use a test called Oncotype DX that measures breast cancer recurrence risk. The emotional impact of cancer diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, and related issues can be severe. Most larger hospitals are associated with cancer support groups which can help patients cope with the many issues that come up in a supportive environment with other people with experience with similar issues. Online cancer support groups are also very beneficial to cancer patients, especially in dealing with uncertainty and body-image problems inherent in cancer treatment.
Depending on the staging and type of the tumor, just a lumpectomy (removal of the lump only) may be all that is necessary or removal of larger amounts of breast tissue may be necessary. Surgical removal of the entire breast is called mastectomy. Standard practice requires that the surgeon must establish that the tissue removed in the operation has margins clear of cancer, indicating that the cancer has been completely excised. If the tissue removed does not have clear margins, then further operations to remove more tissue may be necessary. This may sometimes require removal of part of the pectoralis major muscle which is the main muscle of the anterior chest wall. During the operation, the lymph nodes in the axilla are also considered for removal. In the past, large axillary operations took out ten to forty nodes to establish whether cancer had spread - this had the unfortunate side effect of frequently causing lymphedema of the arm on the same side as the removal of this many lymph nodes affected lymphatic drainage. More recently the technique of sentinel lymph node (SLN) dissection has become popular as it requires the removal of far fewer lymph nodes, resulting in fewer side effects. The sentinel lymph node is the first node that drains the tumor and subsequent SLN mapping can save 65-70% of patients with breast cancer from having a complete lymph node dissection for what could turn out to be a negative nodal basin. SLN biopsy is indicated for patients with T1 abd T2 lesions (<5cm)>
Radiation therapy consists of the use of high powered X-rays or gamma rays (XRT) that precisely target the area that is being treated. These X-rays or gamma rays are very effective in destroying the cancer cells that might recur where the tumor was removed. These X-rays are delivered by a machine called a linear Accelerator or LINAC. Alternatively, the use of implanted radioactive catheters (brachitherapy), similar to those used in prostate cancer treatment, is being evaluated. The use of radiation therapy for breast cancer is usually given after surgery has been performed and is an essential component of breast conserving therapy. The purpose of radiation is to reduce the chance that the cancer will recur. Radiation therapy works for breast cancer by eliminating the microscopic cancer cells that may remain near the area where the tumor was removed during surgery. Since by the nature of radiation and its effects on normal cells and cancer cells alike the dose that is given is to ensure that the cancer cells are eliminated. However, the dose cannot be given in one sitting. Radiation causes some damage to the normal tissue around where the tumor was but normal healthy tissue can repair itself. The treatments are given typically over a period of five to seven weeks, performed five days a week. Each treatment session takes about fifteen minutes per day. Breaking the treatments up over this extended period of time gives the healthy normal tissue a chance to repair itself. Cancer cells do not repair themselves as well as normal cells, which explains the efficacy of radiation therapy.
Although radiation therapy can reduce the chance that breast cancer will recur in the breast, it is much less effective in prolonging patient survival. The National Cancer Institute reviews this information. in a paragraph that begins:“Breast-conserving surgery alone without radiation therapy . . .” The NCI includes six studies; none of them found a survival benefit for radiation therapy. Abstracts from all six studies are available for review. Patients who are unable to have radiation therapy after lumpectomy should consult with a surgeon who understands this research and who believes that lumpectomy (or partial mastectomy) alone is a reasonable treatment option.
Uses medications to treat cancer cells throughout the body. Any combination of systemic treatments may be used to treat breast cancer. Systemic treatments include chemotherapy, immune therapy, and hormonal therapy.
In patients whose cancer expresses an over-abundance of the HER2 protein the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin ®) is used to block the HER2 protein in breast cancer cells slowing their growth. This drug was originally used only in the treatment of patients with metastatic disease, however in the summer of 2005 two large clinical trials published results suggesting that patients with early-stage disease also benefit significantly from Herceptin.