Saturday, October 30, 2010

More birthdays

Yesterday was my birthday! And today there will be cake.

In the meantime, I am spending some time with some of my favourite singers and musicians, being feted. Be sure to check out Aaron Neville, DEVO, Jack Black and Jack Johnson.

Happy birthday, Jennifer!

And happy birthday to you, whenever it is.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New study calls green tea's breast cancer benefit into question

A new study out of  Japan found that middle-age and older women who drank 10 or more cups of green tea a day did not  have a lower breast cancer risk than women who drink half a cup or less a week. According to researcher Dr. Motoki Iwasaki, a cancer epidemiologist at the National Cancer Center in Japan, the study's findings suggest that, "green tea intake, within a usual drinking habit, is unlikely to reduce the risk of breast cancer." While other studies have found green tea to have a beneficial effect, Iwasaki says this is not the first study to disprove the connection.

So why have some studies in the past suggested their is a benefit? Dr. Qi Dai, a cancer epidemiologist at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Tennessee suggests that green tea may provide protection against breast cancer for women in specific age groups or with certain genetic makeup.

But Iwasaki doesn't think the conflicting evidence means we should stop drinking it. There are many types of green tea, but all contain antioxidants called polyphenols that neutralize toxic free radicals in the body. Studies have linked the tea to a decreased risk of other types of cancers, including bladder, ovarian, stomach and colorectal cancers, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Am I confusing people by posting all these conflicting studies? I hope not. I'm trying to stay on top of research so that we can be informed about the potential for solid breakthroughs. So I will keep drinking green tea and reminding people to maintain a healthy bodyweight and watch their alcohol consumption. Anyone got a study to disprove those last two?!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fighting cancer with broccoli recipes

Inspired by my sister's offering on how her family often eats their broccoli, (cook it in a little water, add a drizzle of olive oil, salt and several cut up garlic cloves), I thought I'd line up some of our favourite ways to prepare it. Now, I will not lie, my kids do not like broccoli. Not even a little bit. So I'm lucky if I can get them to choke down even the tiniest nubbin, even if I frost it with dip. But I do believe in offering up all vegetables, even the unpopular ones, and often. Eventually, they are going to eat them. So, here's some of my favourite broccoli recipes my kids can expect to say no to in their very near future. :-)

  1. Jamie Oliver's Broccoli Salad    It has bacon in it, so not the healthiest way to prepare it. But lordy is it yummy. And, honestly, isn't it better to eat bad for you dishes made up mostly of good for you food than bad for you dishes made up entirely of bad for you food?
  2. Melissa Clark's Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp  So yummy, only one dish to clean, quick and easy. Serve it on brown rice if you don't make getting your rice cooker (or a saucepan) dirty too.
  3. The Neely's Broccoli Cheddar Corn Bread Again, not the healthiest way to eat broccoli, but now all of a sudden corn bread is better for you. :-)
  4. Molly Wizenberg's Broccoli Soup with Lemon-Chive Cream. Molly writes the terribly good Orangette blog and co-hosts my favourite food pod-cast Spilled Milk.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday's health links

  1. Back to school for all of us! Health Canada has teamed up with major food manufacturers to teach us how to interpret nutritional labelling. The campaign is intended to teach consumers how to read labels to identify which nutrients they may want more of, and which they may want less of. It does this by redirecting our eyes to the per cent daily value column so we can focus on how much of the recommended daily intake of certain vitamins and nutrients that one serving of the food contains. The immediate takeaway information - if something has less than 5% of your daily nutritional requirement, that is considered "a little", more than 15% is "a lot." So, you should pick those foods that have "a lot" of the stuff you need and "a little" of the stuff you don't! Sounds obvious, but I think we are overdue for this reminder. Health Canada has a new section on their website to help us out.
  2. Canadian researchers say that women are more likely to report histories of breast and ovarian cancers on their mothers' sides. And women with a maternal history of cancer were five times more likely to be referred for further testing. All this when it is equally likely that the genetic inheritance of breast and ovarian cancers comes from our fathers as our mothers. My dad's mom had a bilateral mastectomy as a relatively young woman. In all of this past year, not once did any of my health care providers talk about the possible link. In fact, I thought paternal history was much less important than maternal. To read more, click here
  3. Increasing the effectiveness of broccoli's cancer-fighting power. Scientists from the University of Illinois say that sulforaphae, broccoli's cancer-fighting agent, can be released from its parent compound by bacteria found in the colon. They say this raises the possibility that we may someday be able to increase broccoli's cancer-fighting ability by boosting the activity of these bacteria. Also noted, less than one serving a day of broccoli is enough to see an anti-cancer benefit - a much lower amount than many of the other foods lauded for cancer prevention.
  4. More on broccoli, from June of this year. A substance produced when you eat broccoli and brussels sprouts, I3C, may block the growth of cancer cells.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

While we wait for a cure, how do we process all these headlines?

When I was at the cancer fund-raiser last weekend, one of the speakers cautioned us against making too much of research involving, essentially, a few mice, a beaker and a scientist. And I get that. It seems every day there is another headline in the paper announcing the results of another cancer study. But at what point do we start to get excited? How large does the study need to be? Over what duration? Involving whom? Do we make decisions for ourselves, or wait for some organization, group or health care provider to put their stamp of approval on it before we start making the changes the research would seem to indicate?

Cue the latest headline - Collards and carrots may ward off breast cancer. In this new study of over 50,000 African American women, eating lots of carrots and cruciferous vegetables (collard greens, cabbage, broccoli) was linked to a reduced breast cancer risk, especially for estrogen receptor-negative tumours, a form of breast cancer more common among African American women. Estrogen receptor-negative tumours are harder to treat and have a poorer prognosis than estrogen receptor-positive tumours.

Lead researcher Dr. Deborah A. Boggs, of Boston University said her research team had found in previous work that African American women who consumed what they called a "prudent diet" high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish had a lower risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancers. In her new study, she and her team were looking at whether fruits and vegetables were behind the beneficial effect of that diet and, further, whether specific varieties of fruits and vegetables were more beneficial than others. What they found was that women who ate at least two servings of vegetables a day had a 43 percent lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer compared with women who ate fewer than four servings of vegetables each week. And, certain types of vegetables appeared to reduce the risk of all types of breast cancer, including broccoli, collard greens, cabbage and carrots. For example, women who ate three or more servings a week of carrots had a 17 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who ate carrots less than once a month.

So what do we take away from this study? This is a nice big group. And its women, not mice! Do we rush out and start eating more carrots? Maybe we should. The researchers say it is still to early to know what the link is and that further research needs to be done on the role of vegetables in the cancer fight. It may be that people who regularly consume a lot of vegetables just make generally healthier lifestyle choices. Or, there may be some other unknown mechanism that accounts for the apparent protection offered by these specific vegetables.  
But given that there is no down side to increasing our vegetable consumption, why wouldn't we start eating more of them now? We have no idea how long it will be before a real cure for breast cancer is found. In the meantime, it makes good sense to start making the changes that make sense.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Avoiding chemicals in cosmetics: the David Suzuki Foundation's Dirty Dozen

As part of my health links on Monday, I mentioned Breast Cancer Action Montreal's list, Toxic Twenty, twenty cosmetic additives they think consumers should be avoiding. Today, I'm passing along the David Suzuki Foundation's Dirty Dozen. For more  indepth coverage, here is a link to the full report.

And in case you want one place to skim both lists, (just occasionally right because I really want you to read the full reports) I'll provide them below:

BCAM's Toxic Twenty
  1. Benzalkonium Chloride
  2. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) / Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  3. Coal Tar
  4. Cocamide DEA / Lauramide DEA, TEA, MEA
  5. DMDM Hydantoin
  6. FD&C Colours
  7. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives (note: not usually listed but according to them it is in almost everything. They say it will likely be listed as fragrance, parfum or aroma
  8. Fragrance
  9. Heavy Metals (note: again, not listed. Often present as a contaminant but sometimes added intentionally)
  10. Oxybenzone
  11. Parabens
  12. P Phenylenediamine
  13. Phthalates
  14. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
  15. Propylene Glycol
  16. Selenium Sulfide
  17. Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  18. Synthetic Musks
  19. Talc
  20. Triclosan
David Suzuki Foundation's Dirty Dozen
  1. BHA and BHT
  2. Coal Tar Dyes
  3. DEA (and MEA and TEA)
  4. Dibutyl Phthalate
  5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
  6. Parabens
  7. Parfum (Frangrance)
  8. PEG comounds
  9. Petrolatum
  10. Siloxanes
  11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  12. Triclosan
So that you are able to make informed choices in the drugstore or at the cosmetic counter, the Foundation has provided a handy pocket-sized list of the Dirty Dozen, available for download here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Natural household cleaning products

Monday, CBC News had an interesting article about how some corporations are changing the way they do things, seeking out more environmentally friendly, sustainable practices before being forced to through legislation or regulation. And these are big, name brand corporations like Clorox and Procter and Gamble.

Good news! But along with these positive changes, there are some changes that do raise concerns for consumers. Among them is the use of the word "natural" in product names and descriptions. What does natural mean to us? What does it mean to them? The Natural Products Association (NPA), a group that has been advocating on behalf of natural products since 1926, is trying to help consumers out. They have established a standard for the use of the word natural in household cleaning products.

Under the NPA's new definition, "a household cleaning product is considered natural if it is made from 95 per cent natural ingredients, which are defined as those that come or are made from a renewable resource found in nature with absolutely no petroleum compounds." The full breakdown of their standard is available here.

NPA spokesperson, Dr. Daniel Fabricant, has advice for consumers who want to buy natural but don't know which products to choose, "If you don't see [a list of] ingredients on the product, don't buy the product."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday's health links

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I did! On Saturday morning, I attended the 8th Annual Breast Health Breakfast for the Canadian Cancer Society in Richmond, BC with  Jon's mother and sister. Good company, yummy food and great presenters: Dr. Karen Gelmon, a medical oncologist and senior researcher from the BC Cancer Agency,  Cheri Van Patten, a registered dietitian and research and clinical practitioner in oncology at the BC Cancer Agency, and Jules Sesia, breast cancer survivor turned stand-up comedienne and motivational speaker. We got lots of great, current information delivered with a dose of humour and new found appreciation for the positive changes cancer can bring (thank you, Jules!).

Now on to the links:
  1. More on the financial toll of cancer. Here doctors may not be recommending some treatment options because they fear their patients can't afford them.
  2. Walking linked to prevention of brain shrinkage! Remember that old Ellen DeGeneres joke, "My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is."? Well, that was my Granny (only her trip was circular and she almost always ended up back at her home!). She walked every chance she could get and kept physically busy every day of her life. If she stopped moving to, say, read a book, she fell asleep! And she lived to be 101. We miss you, Granny.
  3. As summer turns to fall and days get shorter and shorter, now more than ever we should be thinking about vitamin D, especially in Canada. Here's another reminder on how to prevent vitamin D deficiency.
  4. The Breast Cancer Fund presents its report on the connection between breast cancer and the environment. It would appear we need to pitch out most of our cosmetics. The one recommendation I am struggling with is avoiding anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA and BHA acids. Gulp. The report is an interesting read, but due to its size it doesn't provide all the science behind its recommendations. I need to do more research. In related news, Breast Cancer Action Montreal has listed the "Toxic Twenty" ingredients they have identified as most hazardous to our health. Check it out here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

To freak or not to freak? Doing the PBTP dance

One of my ongoing issues is managing the freak. That is, at what point do allow my inner to freak dance about screaming It's back, it's back! and at what point do I tell myself to give the freak a cup of tea and point it at today's episode of Coronation Street (my apologies to anyone who doesn't get that reference - substitute your favourite soap opera for the purposes of the analogy).

To explain...since my mastectomy I have spoken to my medical oncologist about some pain issues I've been experiencing. Occasionally, I have a sensation of a bruise over the area where my breast used to be and on a really fun day that feeling is joined but twinges, tingles and shooting pains in my chest, back and arm pit. He has examined me thoroughly and tried to assuage my fear with reassurance that it was "completely normal" and most likely due to nerve endings repairing themselves as my body tries to put itself back together.

But the fear remains and I have to spend some time managing it. This afternoon, I was skimming the Fall 2010 issue of Abreast and The Rest and I came across a link to a 2008 article on Post Breast Therapy Pain. Eureka! That is what I have.

According to the article's author, Dr. Pippa Hawley FRCPC, Pain and Symptom Management Specialist at the BC Cancer Agency here in Vancouver,
"Women experiencing PBTP often experience numb or tight sensations, along with local tenderness and sometimes shooting pains or tingling sensations. PBTP is usually felt in the armpit and the chest wall, sometimes extending into the breast or chest wall where the breast tissue was removed. Pain can sometimes radiate down the arm or around to the back or shoulder."

YES! YES! YES! THAT it what I have!!!!! Woo hooooooo!

Sorry for the outburst. (happy dance, happy dance) Do continue, Dr. Hawley.
"These abnormal sensations result from the nerves in the area trying to repair themselves and in the process undergo electrical firing. When a nerve fires, signals are transmitted resulting in the person sensing pain as if there might be some injury happening, when there is none. "

The more extensive the surgery, the more likely there will be pain. For most women, the pain will resolve itself within 3 months of surgery, but for us lucky few, it may take years to fade away. But the pain itself has always been very manageable. The problem has been the fear. And I'm not allowed to drink wine to deal with THAT anymore! This article was a great comfort to me. Not that my oncologist's words weren't. But what had been missing for me was the knowledge of just how common this is. Turns out, it is pretty common.

So, what does one do to deal with PBTP? In the weeks immediately following surgery, standard pain killers like acetaminophen and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen can help. Long term use of anti-inflammatory medications is not recommended, so if the pain endures you should talk to you doctor about other pain medications that might be appropriate for you.

Stretching of the area may increase pain, but it is important to keep the shoulder joint moving so that you don't develop a "frozen" shoulder. To help find some safe and effective exercises to assist with maintaining good mobility, you may be advised to seek help from a physiotherapist. Beyond this, you may want to explore massage or acupuncture which have proven helpful for some women. And, of course, getting enough sleep and avoiding stress will also help you manage pain. Funny how the pain seems so much more manageable for me not that my freak is taking a nap.

As usual, the content of my blog should NEVER be used in place of a FOR REAL conversation with your health care providers. But if you were a little worried, I hope this gives you a bit of comfort to help you manage your freak until you can get in to your doctor! :-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Another reason why I love our organic food delivery service!

We love SPUD, Small Potatoes Urban Delivery. Jon and I have used their service off and on for somewhere near ten years. Every week they deliver fantastic organic produce, milk, cheese, bread and a host of other products, right to our doorstep. The customer service people are ridiculously friendly and immediately responsive to questions and concerns. We have watched them grow from a small local business to an international concern and we couldn't be prouder.

OK - correction - we thought we couldn't be prouder. In my in-box this morning I found a message from SPUD related to Cancer Awareness Month, pink ribbons and all. But this wasn't a simple message reminding women about the importance of screening - it was a clearly written article linking a recent study on the critical role that lifestyle habits and diet play in cancer development with specific choices consumers could make. They have used this month to not just raise awareness but to educate on what we can do proactively to avoid this disease. One more sign that this isn't just a company - it's a community with a heart.

Here is a link to the article, complete with some perky pictures!

If you are interested in what SPUD can do for you, and you live in the lower mainland of British Columbia, portions of Vancouver Island, Calgary, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Portland, check them out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Changing our perception during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Anyone reading the cancer blogs these days is going to have run across a pretty common refrain - the pink campaign isn't working for all of us. While I recognize the value of educating the public about breast cancer, I am unhappy with the way the campaign plays out in stores across North America. And clearly I am not alone. Bloggers are blogging, loud and clear. Rethink the pink.

All of this discussion makes me happy, though. Perhaps we are on the front edge of a wave of changing perception when it comes to all forms of cancer.  Perhaps we are moving to a world where we devote as much time, or more, to prevention as we do to screening and treatment.

What follows are a range of news stories on prevention and the need for related education.
  1. BCAM is tired of the pink campaign. Instead, they want more money being channelled to breast cancer prevention. 
  2. A study out of Montreal examines the possible connection between breast cancer and traffic-related pollution.
  3. British scientists say genetic differences are not as important as lifestyle factors when it comes to breast cancer. Obesity and alcohol consumption - are you listening?
  4. Lifestyle choices and environmental causes - in May of this year cancer advisors to President Obama released their report stating that while choices like smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise cause two-thirds of cancers, pollution, radon from the soil and medical imaging scans also cause many avoidable cancers. The American Cancer Society questioned the report's downplaying of known risks and "restating of hypotheses as if they were established facts."
  5. I missed THIS in June. Researchers in Cleveland are working on a breast cancer vaccine.  The vaccine targets a protein found in tumours and is designed to prevent the disease with a single dose. It has worked in mice and the researchers have great hope it will work in humans because this protein is relatively high in tumours in both groups.
  6. Canadian researchers found that while consuming vitamin D and calcium in food did not protect against breast cancer, consuming vitamin D in supplement form did. They are calling for more research in this area. I can tell you that increasing my daily intake of vitamin D in supplement form to prevent recurrence is probably the single biggest piece of advice I have received from my medical oncologist. OK - that and managing my weight through vigorous exercise! :-)
  7. Finally, the debate about the value of screening mammograms heats up with this study from Norway. Let's not dispense with screening, but please let us not become overly reliant on it as a first line of defence.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting your veggies in with new Bittman recipes

It is no secret - in this house Mark Bittman is pretty much a god. This morning on the Today Show, he was promoting his latest book, "The Food Matters Cookbook" and showed off two recipes that look like great ways to get in our cancer fighting vegetables. 

The best vegetable soup ever, no kidding

  • 3/4 cup olive oil, more or less
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch parsley, washed and chopped, thick stems discarded
  • 2 or 3 cabbage leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch chard, preferably white, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked white beans, like cannellini, with their liquid if possible

Put about a third of the olive oil in the bottom of a deep pot and turn the heat to medium.
Add half the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, which takes about 10 minutes.
Add about half of the remaining oil and repeat the process, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.
Add the remaining oil with the parsley, cabbage and chard and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is softened but not browned.
Add the tomato paste and stir.
Mash the beans so that they're about half mashed and half more-or-less whole. Add this mixture to the pot, along with any bean cooking liquid and enough water to make the whole mixture stewy but not watery.
Continue cooking, tasting and adjusting the seasoning as necessary, until all the vegetables are very tender and the soup is hot. Serve hot or warm.
Serving Size
Makes about 10 servings

Roasted butternut chowder with apples and bacon

  • 1 butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 4 bacon slices, or one 1/2-inch-thick strip slab bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread the squash, onion, apples, bacon and garlic in a deep roasting pan or on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the oil.
Roast, stirring every now and then, until the squash, onion and apples are tender and browned and the bacon is crisp, which takes about 45 minutes.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven.
Stir in the sage and white wine and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom.
If you're using a roasting pan that can be used on the stovetop, position the pan over 2 burners and put both on medium heat. Otherwise, transfer the contents of the pan to a large pot or Dutch oven and set it over medium heat.
Add the stock and cook until the squash, onion and apples break apart and thicken and flavor the broth, which takes about 25 minutes. You can help the process along by breaking the mixture up a bit with a spoon.
Serving Size
Makes four servings

Recipes appear as posted on the Today Show website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday's health links - on Tuesday

Sorry - but yesterday was Thanksgiving here in Canada. I hope everyone was able to take some time to be with, or think of, the people for whom they are thankful.

  1. A new study links dense breasts to  an increased risk for recurrence in the other breast.
  2. Sexual problems after breast cancer are common, but are aromatase inhibitors making it worse?
  3. Last week, I gave some friends from my sons' school permission to use MY chemo brain to excuse their own mental failings (a la, "Gee, I spent too much time talking to Cyn on the playground today and now I have chemo brain!"). But what is chemo brain? A study suggests even patients who do not go through chemo experience loss of memory or confusion.
  4. There ARE things you can do to lower your risk for breast cancer, and now a study says this is true even for women with a family history.The study says, regardless of a family connection, breast cancer risk drops if you do three things:
    1. Exercise regularly  - 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, 4 times a week
    2. Consume alcohol moderately - less than 7 drinks per week
    3. Maintain a healthy weight - a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Today I am angry. Thankful, but angry.

This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada. And I have been thinking about why I am thankful, this year more than ever. I am surrounded by thoughtful, interesting people who choose to make a difference in this world. My kids are healthy, kind, curious, and fun to be around. And my husband is a really good man. I have a team of health care providers that are conscientious, positive and honest. Beyond giving me good care, they helped me stay focused on healing and life beyond treatment. All of these things played a part in my surviving and thriving during treatment - and for each of them I am profoundly thankful.

So with so much to be thankful for, why am I so angry today? Because I am sick and tired of talking about screening and treatment. This is October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and still almost all I hear people talking about are mammograms and self-exams. Apparently the secret to beating breast cancer is being able to find those monstrous tumours before their minions bust out and start touring your body. Then the battle plan shifts to the many tools we have to fight the tumours: chemo, radiation, surgery. WTF!? Why are we only talking about what to do AFTER you have a tumour? It seems to me there is a big part of the conversation that rarely makes it to the table. Why aren't we talking more about NOT GETTING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!  Certainly for those of us without the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, there are specific dietary and lifestyle choices that we can make that have been linked to reduced breast cancer risk.   As someone who has gone through the gut-wrenching fear of dying and the agony of imagining life without a mom for my two little boys, I can tell you that if I had it to do over again I would rather have tried to prevent that little bugger of a tumour from showing up than go through diagnosis and treatment.

But still when I poke my head up out of the foxhole, I hear people talking overwhelmingly about mammograms, self exams and advances in treatment. So why do we do this? Why are we so damned focused on what to do AFTER you get a tumour instead of talking honestly about the choices you can make to decrease your chances of getting one? And while I'm at it, why are the only people reading cancer blogs (aside from lovely supportive family members and friends) CANCER SURVIVORS?

So today I wake up to more discussion of mammograms and treatment on tv today and I am ANGRY. ANGRY AND MOTIVATED TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE.

From today on out...a call to action. Please, if you have had cancer, start talking to your friends about how they can prevent getting it. And if you are one of my lovely supportive friends or family members, can you please stop thinking about breast cancer as MY problem? It's YOUR problem, too. Don't just drink green tea with me to be polite, drink it for YOUR health. Don't congratulate me for getting regular exercise unless YOU are getting regular exercise, too. Stop asking me what I am doing to prevent recurrence and start asking me what YOU can do to prevent an occurrence. And for the love of God, please start reading about possible connections between diet and cancer and apply what YOU learn in the choices you make for yourself and your families.

If the only thing I have gained from this past year is my own awareness of how to prevent a recurrence, what a complete and utter waste that would be. If you are reading my blog to be supportive, I love you, but please stop. If you are reading my blog because you want to learn, apply and share what I am learning, I love you, too, please visit often...and forward my link to someone you love, too.

And, whichever group you fit into, please know I am thankful for you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moving towards a plant-based diet

If you have been reading about the food-cancer connection, you may have seen recommendations for shifting to a plant-based diet. I'm new to the topic, so have been trying to determine how well this is backed up by science.

My first contact with this in recent days was reading about Bill Clinton's recent weight-loss using The China Study by Colin Campbell. I started to learn more when I found Meg Wolff's posts on the Huffington Post. People who believe in changing to a plant-based diet can cite all sorts of anecdotal evidence of it working to reverse cardiovascular disease and fight many cancers. Yet there are still doctors who do not support the drastic changes this approach represents for most people, who instead just want us to "eat healthier" and manage our weight.

So how do we decide what works best for us? At this point, I've decided to start making gradual changes and continue to research and talk to my health care providers. I'm increasing the quantity and variety of vegetables I eat and cutting back on animal protein. I try to satisfy my sweet tooth with fruit. I will still consume dairy (I'm allergic to nuts so don't tell me to drink almond milk) but in smaller amounts; I make my own yogurt and love cheese, but I will make sure to monitor my portions and opt for lower fat versions whenever possible. I will continue to eat flax seed, but limit my intake to a couple of tablespoons a day. I still have my morning latte, but drink nothing but tea or water for the rest of the day. I am increasing the beans and legumes I consume and opting for whole grains over processed white flour. I am cutting back on my alcohol intake. And, I am getting more exercise.

But in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that after Bunny's soccer practice tonight, we stopped for takeout poutine. Yes we did. Because sometimes you need to share something ridiculous with a couple of goofy boys.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

15 watercress recipes from Epicurious

Yesterday I posted a health story about the possible health benefits of watercress. So I started hunting down some likely candidate recipes on Epicurious. I tried to pick a range so that you would be able to find easy ways to integrate watercress into your diet. NO tiny tea sandwiches. If you have some more, share!
  1. Avocado and watercress soup.
  2. Parsnip, yam and watercress chowder. Note: substitute reduced-fat milk for the cream.
  3. Turkey, tortellini and watercress soup. Great for after Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend.
  4. Miso soup with shrimp and watercress.
  5. Herbed goat cheese, roasted beet and watercress salad.
  6. Bibb, watercress and mint salad.
  7. Watermelon and watercress salad with ginger. Ok, this is going to have to wait till next summer.
  8. Watercress salad with warm vinaigrette.
  9. Salmon with lemon-pepper sauce and watercress-herb salad.
  10. Wilted watercress with garlic.
  11. Mango and shrimp wraps
  12. Turkey watercress club sandwiches. Adapt it by using leftover turkey and low-fat mayonnaise.
  13. Linguine with chile, crab and watercress. Up the watercress to get more health benefits.
  14. Grilled chorizo, goat cheese and watercress pita pizzas.
  15. Turkey cutlets Milanese with watercress salad.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I need a laugh - how about you? an escalator.

More news on the pink campaign

Does the presence of a pink ribbon ever make you select one product over another? If so, please give this a read. From Jill Cohen's Dancing with Cancer website, found via Dee's Updates.

If you want to learn more, visit Breast Cancer Action's project Think Before You Pink. And click here for their article on Komen for the Cure partnering with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Buckets for the Cure.

Monday's health links

  1. Watercress might be a new tool in breast cancer prevention.  Stay tuned for some recipes.
  2. Soy protein linked to breast cancer survival. But how does that work for those of us who are HER2 positive?
  3.  Winnipeg's Cole Choken is finishing his run from Mexico to his home to raise money for cancer research.
  4.  Multivitamins may help women suffering from heart disease ward off heart attacks.
  5.  Men still under informed about their own breast cancer risks.
  6. And here's an op ed piece from the Huffington Post...a call to arms. Let's set a date for curing breast cancer.