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Beating breast cancer

Beating breast cancer

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Published by: Newsday on Sep 23, 2011
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BEATING Breast Cancer
The Best Defense? Smart, Healthy Living
By Marie Wolf
These are the important cancer-fighters Dr. Shah recommends: ● Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and bok choy – contain isothiocyanates that help remove carcinogens from the body. ● Green Tea – a powerful antioxidant containing epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which helps suppress tumor growth. One to three cups per day, brewed from loose tea leaves is most beneficial. ● Soy products – contain isoflavones, known to block production of cancer cell growth. Safe in moderation, says Dr. Shah, as soy can produce an estrogen-like effect. ● Red grapes – contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that may influence genes in stopping the growth of cancer cells. ● Tumeric powder – an Indian spice containing curcumin. Not only helps prevent colds and soothes sore throats, it is believed to have cancer-fighting properties. Sprinkle it on your veggies. ● Magnesium-rich foods – a handful of walnuts, or beans, legumes or leafy green vegetables help regulate cell growth and repair DNA. While making the switch to healthier eating, lose weight if need be. “Unfortunately, obesity is a big risk factor for all cancers,” says Eva Chalas, M.D. the director of Clinical Cancer Services at Winthrop University Hospital. “Fat is essentially hormonally active. It gets converted into estrogen.” Many patients are surprised to learn of the connection, Chalas says, and globally speaking, she says the biggest disappointment among the medical community is that many people don’t heed the advice to change their lifestyle. “For patients undergoing treatment, we have learned that those who exercise regularly—20 to 30 minutes of walking, six days a week—have fewer side effects.”


marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time of year when women can learn all they need to about their breast health. It’s a month filled with fundraising walks, golf outings and luncheons aimed to spark enthusiasm for the cause—all to benefit research to find a cure and empower women to fight the fight. But what’s the point if our enthusiasm wanes as the month winds down? To prevent it, survive it and live your life breast cancer-free, researchers say the best defense is living an informed, healthy lifestyle every single day of the year. That means getting acquainted with your breasts and learning how to perform regular self-exams. It means understanding the importance of early detection and annual mammograms. It means fueling your body with cancer-fighting foods, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and tossing aside the cigarettes and alcohol.

Nutrition, Exercise, Weight Management

0,00 wome 0,000 womeS 000 ACT men According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, almost 200,000 women nt of women wome men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. More than 30 percent of women d and are diagnosed after the cancer has metastasized to other areas. If detected and diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. If diagnosed in the later stages (when the cancer has spread to other areas), the chances of survival drop to about 27 percent. The longer you live, the greater your chances of developing the disease. So, “why would you want to wait to get breast cancer?” That’s the question posed by Neeta Shah, M.D. FACP, vice president of Women’s Health Services, North Shore-LIJ Health System, who supports the findings in a recent American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund report. It states that nearly 40 percent of breast cancers in the U.S. could be prevented by following a healthy diet, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol and breastfeeding—that translates into 70,000 preventable cases. For those 5 to 10 percent of women who are genetically predisposed for breast cancer and have no control over it, Dr. Shah believes they can be healthier cancer patients, able to fight side effects. “We now have the power to change genetic activity through lifestyle modification,” she says. “What you eat can either activate or silence your genes.”



In 1995, breast cancer specialist and surgeon, Dr. Virginia Maurer, founded the Maurer Foundation for Breast Health Education after discovering that her patients were thirsty for information that would help them lower their breast cancer risk. The Foundation promotes healthy lifestyle tips by sending educators into school districts across Long Island to empower girls and boys in grades 9-12. Diet, exercise and risky behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use are discussed, says Senior Program Educator, Susan Simon. “We tell students that if you start healthy habits early on you can lower your risks, she says. ” The Foundation also promotes the “three-pronged approach” to breast cancer prevention: 1. Clinical exam by a physician 2. Breast self-exam (BSE) – The Foundation teaches the Vertical Strip Pattern: using pads of fingers, move up and down the breast in even rows and include the armpits and clavicle. 3. Mammogram To date, the Maurer Foundation’s message has spread to 146,000 Long Island students, says Simon.

Education—Early On

Genetic testing, performed by taking a blood sample, can reveal whether or not a woman has inherited a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. If so, the risk of developing cancer increases substantially. To reduce that risk, Dr. Melinda J. Staiger, the director of the Women’s Imaging Center at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, says there are three separate pathways to discuss with your physician: 1. Prophylactic mastectomy (and possible oophorectomy) 2. Preventive Drugs – including Tamoxifen 3. Elevated Surveillance – for patients who don’t want surgery or drug therapy, adding a screening MRI to their annual mammogram exam may be suggested. Researchers hope that with ever-improving medical treatments, along with healthy lifestyle, breast cancer will be eradicated. As Dr. Shah says, “a healthy lifestyle is the foundation of everything.”

Risk Reduction for BRACA Positive Carriers

Creating a Hopeful Future

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