Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday's health links

I hope everyone is well and warm.

  1. Sometimes a cancer diagnosis isn't enough to get someone to stop smoking. Doctors, and loved ones, need to more actively encourage and support cancer patients to quit. CBC.
  2. Jonathan Levine, director of Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's movie "50-50", says he underestimated how many potential viewers would shy away from seeing a movie about cancer. I don't know what excuse the rest of you are using, but I am still not interested in seeing movies about people dying from cancer. Spoiler - in this one, he lives! Now will you see it? I'm going to. From all accounts, it is a well-written, thoughtful film, that provides great insight into what the cancer experience is like. "50-50" will be available on DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, January 24. Winnipeg Free Press.
  3. Deepak Chopra on the role of prevention in the war on cancer. This can be hard to hear, but he asserts that some experts believe that 90-95% of cancers are preventable. So, as a cancer survivor do I feel blamed? A little, but I must admit that choices I have made (having children later in life, not maintaining optimal weight, drinking alcohol moderately) may be connected to the growth of my tumour. We all know healthy, fit people who have gotten cancer - but using them as an excuse not to take a hard look at how prevention may improve our odds is stupid. Huffington Post.
  4. "Pink Ribbons, Inc.", the film examining the pinking of the breast cancer "industry" opens in Canadian theatres February 3, 2012. Locally, for me, it will be shown in Richmond city council chambers Feb. 10 at 7 pm.  A panel discussion will follow.
Have a great week.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Etta James 1938-2012

The incomparable Etta James died this morning from complications of leukemia. New York Times.

Thank you, Etta. You gave our house a lot of joy.

Bunny bonding with Etta, January 2006.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monday's health links

  1. Liver and thyroid cancer rates rise in Canada. CBC.
  2. Was the Million Women Study flawed?  If so, the anxiety around hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer may be misplaced. NY Daily News.
  3. New blood test shows promise in early detection of pancreatic cancers. MSN. This could be huge news - one of the reasons pancreatic cancers are so hard to fight is that they go undetected until they have spread.
  4. The debate continues. Here, on op-ed piece the National Post calling into question the value of mammograms. I hear both sides, all the time. Many women are offended that critics of mammograms point to the unnecessary anxiety that false positives cause, saying they would rather deal with anxiety than cancer. But my reality is that my mammogram did not find my 8 cm tumour. It was only because I continued to press about the cause of my pink skin that I was referred to a specialist. Perhaps we should be enriching the public dialogue by including more anecdotal evidence through individuals' stories of how their different cancers have presented. I am so tired of the pithy cancer sound bite and the cute marketing campaign.  I don't know about you, but I have time in my day to listen to the cancer experience. That's where the real learning is.
  5. Magnesium may be one key to decreasing your risk of stroke. A new study finds that people with diets rich in magnesium have a much lower stroke risk. The mineral is found in beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains and, of course, green leafy vegetables. Magnesium also aides in calcium absorption, so it's an important mineral for people looking after their bones (like me!).  Globe and Mail.
  6. Finally, back to my previous posts on daily tips for getting your healthy eating back on track. Day 7: snack on fruit. Day 8: drink a cup of green tea (here they suggest you use it while marinating or stir-frying) . Day 9: eat a leafy green vegetable (!).  Day 10 : plan next week's meals in advance (helps you avoid the dreaded drive-thru dash.)  Day 11:  pass on the salt. (Originally I read this as "pass the salt" and was all "woo hoo!" This makes much more sense. Nuts.)   Day 12: eat one vegetarian meal. And Day 13: add ground flax seed to your diet. The lignans are the key here so feel free to add chia seeds instead.  I had estrogen receptor positive breast cancer so should avoid flax seed - but chia is safe (and you don't have to grind it!). Globe and Mail.
Have a great day and, if you're getting snow dumped on you today, stay warm and please drive safely.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday's health links

I hope everyone had a great weekend. We spent a lovely few hours yesterday playing outdoor laser tag in celebration of my nephew's 8th birthday. Happy Birthday, Finn! We also got to spend some quality time with his grandpa, Bob. It was a wonderful day.

On with the links:
  1. Please do not use this as an excuse to increase your alcohol consumption, but a new study says that the grape seeds and skins used in making red wine may help it play a role as a tool for preventing breast cancer. White wine, which lacks the skins, does not provide this benefit. A big deal is being made out of this since recent wisdom held that even moderate alcohol consumption was a breast cancer risk factor. The smart money continues to be on cutting back on alcohol, but if you want to indulge occasionally, red wine is an option you can feel better about. Me, I'll continue to feel good about adding grape seed extract to my supplement pile. Toronto Star.
  2. DES and the role it may play in breast cancer. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic estrogen prescribed to millions of women to help prevent miscarriages and other pregnancy complications. Turns out, the daughters of women who took it seem to have higher rates of breast cancer.
  3. An Ontario lawsuit against seven tobacco companies could reduce smoking rates and improve the health of the province's residents. And perhaps it will be the start of real change elsewhere in Canada and the world. CTV.
  4. Study on ADHD and diet suggests healthy eating may help kids reduce their symptoms. You have got to be kidding me - why don't we just come up with a pill? CBS.
  5. Interesting pieces on the current state of health care in Canada and the US. Just one more reason to shift some of our attention to prevention; treating illness is expensive for all of us.
  6. And finally, to continue with the healthy-eating month of tips from last week, days 5 and 6 are eat more veggies and use a smaller plate. I am sorry if I am boring anyone with these tips - but clearly there are still some people out there who haven't got the message. Including, um, me. :-) I love the look of a huge white plate with mounds of beautiful yummies plopped here and there about it. Turns out, that's wreaking a bit of havoc with my portion control meter. Lately, I've been using smaller plates and even bowls to help cut back on quantities. Only problem, turns out you can get a surprising amount of pie into a very small bowl.  Globe and Mail.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New recipes up on my other blog

A few easy, yummy recipes to help you make the shift back to eating like a rational human being. Put down that shortbread (though it was yummy, Judy) and haul out the juicer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Health links to ring in a new year

Welcome to 2012!  I raise my tea to toast you and yours. May your new year be full of sleep, exercise and leafy green vegetables. ;-)

Now for the links...
  1. Still waiting for the cure. In this month's Fortune magazine, Clifton Leaf has written on "Why We're Losing the War on Cancer." He says that actual death rates have not changed much in decades for cancers like lung, pancreatic and liver. "If we keep looking at the number of people getting this disease and dying of it, we will see that those numbers keep going up." What? Dr. Ben Neel, director of the Ontario Cancer Institute at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital, points to the complicated nature of cancer as a disease. But there is hope for cancer-free future. He predicts that there will be continued progressing developing treatments for subsets of the disease, like has been done for HER2-positive breast cancer, rather than a single magic bullet. Both men agree that, while we wait, there are things we can do to fight our own wars on this disease - prevention, he says, can cut cancer rates in half. CBC.
  2. The American Cancer Society does have good news, however. They point to steep declines in fatal cases of both lung and breast cancers as a reason to feel positive about our progress. They do acknowledge, however, that other nasty cancers have been on the rise,  including those of the throat mouth, pancreas, liver, thyroid and kidney, and melanoma. AFP.
  3. The Canadian Cancer Society published its list of the top ten cancer breakthroughs of 2011.  Among them, the clinical trial of Aromasin that suggests it cuts the risk of breast cancer by 65% in high-risk women, the trial that suggests radiation in early-stage breast cancer can significantly improve the chances of survival and decrease the risk of recurrence, and the development of nanoparticles that may be used to target and destroy tumours by converting light produced by lasers into energy to kill cancer cells. CBC.
  4. OK - so now you know you need to eat better and get more exercise as part of your war on cancer. How about some help? Here's a month of tips on eating better and losing weight. Day 1: Keep a food diary for the first week. Day 2: Drink a large glass of water before every meal. Day 3: Increase your fibre intake at breakfast. Today: Eat more slowly.  OK - not the most groundbreaking info, but how well are you doing on your own? :-)  The Globe and Mail.
  5. Get a new iPad or other tablet for Christmas? CBC has summarized the top ten most commonly recommended apps amongst a group of health experts. CBC.