Showing posts with label breast cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label breast cancer. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Study: Even Nominal Alcohol Use Increases Cancer Risk

Researchers conclude that there is no safe threshold for alcohol and cancer risk.

When the science research came out telling us that there may be actual health benefits to wine (such as that gained from the bioflavonoid resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes), many used that as a “bottoms-up!” justification to drink, and drink some more. But is it wise? Even if there are health benefits to alcoholic drinks in moderation, the latest research puts the cap back on the bottle, warning us of cancer risks associated with alcohol use, and that, in fact, alcohol contributes substantially to premature death from any cause.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that alcohol accounts for 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. That’s a whopping 20,000-or-so alcohol-attributable deaths annually.

Their estimates showed that each alcohol-related cancer death led to about 18 years of life lost. Do the math: This means that, on average, if you would have lived alcohol-free to, say, 80, your alcohol-related breast cancer death would take your life at closer to age 62.

Still looking forward to your six-pack TGIF celebration at the end of your work week? 

But how much is too much?  As it turns out, Not much!

Back to “common sense” – you will have surmised correctly if you suspected that quantity of drinking is a factor. But you may be surprised to read how little alcohol it takes to nudge you closer to death.

True enough, those who drink more that three drinks a day have the highest risk of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths. But before you offer up a toast to your good fortune as one who drinks less,  you should know that the study also showed that 30 percent of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths happened to those who consumed less than one and a half drinks a day.

So, as it turns out, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was right when, four years ago, they set Dietary Guidelines for Americans advising that, "If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation – up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men."

That said, the researchers in this latest study concluded that, while higher consumption increases risk, there is no safe threshold for alcohol and cancer risk.

Just one drink … But in How big of a glass?

Let’s talk about the definition on “one drink” before you swipe your brow with relief as a one-drink-a-day kind of person. 

Researchers define a drink by units, in which one unit is 10 ml of pure alcohol. That’s roughly a single shot glass of stronger liquors, such as vodka or whiskey, or a standard-sized single bottle of beer.  If you’re one of those who fills their red wine glass to the top – which is not how a red wine glass is meant to be used – you’ve likely just consumed the alcoholic equivalent of three drinks already. That particular kind of “just one drink” is enough to put you into the higher cancer risk category.

The science behind the conclusions

Existing research has already identified alcohol consumption as tied to increased incidences cancer. In this new study, the researchers analyzed records of deaths tied to seven different types of cancers known to be associated with alcohol use: cancer of the colon, rectum, oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and of the female breast.

The scientists used 2009 U.S. mortality data, aligning it to alcohol surveys and per capita alcohol consumption data to determine the extent to which cancer deaths can be attributed to alcohol use. As well, the researchers studied earlier cancer research and even examined alcohol sales figures from 2009 and two large nationwide surveys of alcohol consumption levels in adults.

Is no alcohol the answer?

Whether you choose to use this new information to motivate a cutback vs. a full stop vs. no change in your alcohol consumption is up to you.  One could argue (and many have) that it’s biblical to drink alcohol. Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, recommended drinking a little wine once in a while to help digestion.
But the sum of it remains that, while alcohol – in moderation – may offer a few cardiovascular benefits, alcohol's cancer-causing properties appear to outweigh the benefits.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, October 15, 2012

Think Pink Part III: Shop for Pink Products to Benefit a Great Cause

Have you seen people walking around with pink streaks in their hair? It isn’t necessarily because they like to live on the wild side or that they got bored with their normal hair color, at least not during the month of October. Many beauty salons participate in Pink Hair for Hope, where customers can get pink hair extensions in exchange for a ten dollar donation to the breast cancer organization, American Cancer Society's Making Strides against Breast Cancer.

Pink hair extensions are more than just fashionable. Extensions from She by SO.CAP.USA serve as a bold symbol of your allegiance to fight for a cure to end a disease that impacts hundreds of thousands of new families every year. The Pink Hair for Hope campaign proudly received participation from 375 salons and brought together roughly two million dollars to battle breast cancer. Those interested in donning bright pink hair for a great cause can choose between traditional hair extensions and clip-in hair extensions at their favorite participating beauty salons.

Of course, pink hair may not be for everyone. The good news is, no matter where you go, no matter what you need to buy, you can usually find something “pink” on the shelves in stores. You can also find countless pink things to place in your shopping cart while shopping online.

Pink Ribbon Groceries

Look for the pink ribbon packaging at your grocery store. You can often find pink labeling on cereals, snacks, candy, and drinks. The "better-for you" deli and lunch meat brand Healthy Ones® has partnered with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and the "Think Pink" program, donating five cents for every tub of lunch meat or pound of deli meat sold during October, with a maximum possible donation of $50,000.

Breast cancer survivor Trish May created Athena® bottled water after her battle with cancer, as a way to do everything possible to help find a cure. A portion of every purchase of Athena® water is donated to breast cancer awareness causes. Another bottled water company, Nestle® Pure Life® Purified Water, has partnered with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®, pledging to support breast cancer awareness and research with the “Pink Pack” campaign again this year. Each “Pink Pack” or 0.5L Multi-Pack of Nestle Pure Life Purified Water sold results in 10 cents being donated to the BCRF, with a minimum donation of $500,000 promised this year.

breast cancer
Some Pink products we've collected over the years.
From food products to coffee presses and jewelry, Think Pink
this October and support the CURE.

Pink Ribbon Beauty

If you want to get yourself some new makeup or perhaps a new skincare product, you will find no shortage of pink ribbon products in the beauty category. Murad, a recognized skincare company, is donating ten percent of the Hydrate for Hope set to the City of Hope’s women’s cancer programs. The Palmer’s skincare line is a longtime supporter of breast cancer awareness and this year will be donating fifteen percent of four separate pink product sales.

Cosmetics companies also do their part to find a cure for breast cancer. Dr.'s REMEDY® is proudly donating ten percent of the proceeds from the sales of three pink nail polish shades, Hopeful Hot Pink, Nurture Nude Pink, and Purity Pink, to the charitable group Living Beyond Breast Cancer. This charity also receives a donation of $2 from every Jane Iredale PureGloss Lip Gloss, In The Pink, available at

Other Pink Ribbon Purchases

Makeup, skincare, and food items are just the beginning. You will find plenty of gift ideas, like Teleflora’s Pink Hope and Courage Bouquet, that donates fifteen percent of the purchase price to BCRF, or Edible Arrangements’ breast cancer awareness collection, featuring pink chocolate covered pineapple or strawberries, where ten percent of the price goes to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

A number of athletic wear and shoe companies like New Balance provide special products with donations to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and other breast cancer charities. New Balance’s shoe, the 860v2, is the official shoe of the Race for the Cure®. New Balance’s Lace Up for the Cure® collection features this shoe as well as an impressive selection of sneakers and footwear, accessories, and workout apparel. Five percent of the suggested retail price of these items will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, with a minimum donation of $500,000 guaranteed annually.

There are so many creative ways that you can support breast cancer research and awareness. Even if you don’t want to get in on the shopping craze, you can host your own pink events or activities in an effort to raise money for the cure. Susan G. Komen Passionately Pink for the Cure® offers consumers a wide variety of ways to get personally involved in the fight for a cure, from hosting a pink ping pong tournament with your friends and family to planning a pink potluck at the office.

Susan G. Komen Passionately Pink for the Cure® shares a bit of information on how they spend the donations they receive, too. Passionately Pink for the Cure fundraisers funnel the money raised to Komen’s national work, which funds more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit group. This year alone, more than $300 million will go toward research in more than 500 institutions. Some of the key outlets for donations are free breast cancer screenings, support through treatment and diagnosis, as well as support for nearly 2,000 community programs that help women in need. In many cases, women receive help to get the treatments they need following diagnosis.

Whether you take some time to find your favorite pink products or you host your own breast cancer fundraiser, remember, it’s never too late to do your part in helping those impacted by breast cancer. Every little bit of support, encouragement, and financial assistance really does make a difference.

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Monday, October 8, 2012

Think Pink Part II - Ways to Help and Get Help

pain in breast breast cysts

Women have a one in eight chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute. A number of different risk factors contribute to a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society lists the following risk factors:
  • Gender - Women are at greater risk than men, although men can get breast cancer.
  • Age - Risk increases with age. 
  • Dense breast tissue - this type of tissue is at greater risk to develop cancer. Dense tissue also makes it more difficult to feel a lump or see one on a mammogram.
  • Family History - A history of breast cancer in a close blood relative, your mom, sister or daughter.
  • BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 Genes - Having these genes does not automatically mean you will get breast cancer and not having them does not mean you will never get it.
  • Some benign breast conditions - Fibrosis, cysts, some benign tumors.

Additional risk factors include lifestyle choices that we can control:
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Post-menopausal without having used menopause drugs
  • Being physically inactive throughout much of life

Living with Breast Cancer

Facing a cancer diagnosis is never easy, even if you have been diagnosed before. There are many questions and fears that race through your mind. Many women find that keeping a cancer journal is a helpful outlet to voice things you may not want to say out loud.

Telling your kids about your breast cancer diagnosis may be the most challenging thing you will have to do after you’ve been diagnosed. advises that it is best to be honest with your children rather than hiding your breast cancer from them.

Talking to Young Children as well as older children and teens can be challenging because each age group has a different awareness of the disease and each reacts differently to emotional stress. advises:

  • Be honest about your diagnosis and don't hide information.
  • Be prepared for their fears about their own health as well as anxiety about the future.
  • Scheduling family meetings where kids can talk about their fears about the changes they see happening.

A personalized story or storybook that you can share with your young child or children might be helpful. Telling friends and family, especially children, about a cancer diagnosis is difficult and scary. Beyond The Shock, a free online resource dedicated to helping women and their families deal with breast cancer, has information for dealing with all aspects of breast cancer.

Remember, you are not alone and other women have gone through each stage of breast cancer. There are breast cancer support groups where you can find advice for talking to family members. Caring Bridge is a free online resource that helps families deal with breast cancer. There are links to leave messages of hope for loved ones, a family support planner and many other links to get involved.

A breast cancer diagnosis does not automatically mean your cancer is incurable. Early diagnosis and a wide variety of treatment options are turning women into survivors every year. Don't be afraid to make plans to do the things you love. One of my friends was diagnosed with an aggressive form of inflammatory breast cancer over three years ago. She chose to change a lot of things in her life, such as diet and exercise, in an effort to counteract the affects of her treatment and to minimize the risk a recurrence. I admire her so much for her strength and sheer will, not only to survive but to thrive. We often laugh because, no matter how bad she felt during the week or how down she got, she made time to go out and enjoy hot wings and beer with her husband every Friday night! If laughter is truly the best medicine, she's living proof.

Cancer research
The Cleveland Leader, Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

Staying ahead of the Curve

Even if you have no personal or family history of breast cancer, stay on top of your annual mammograms and monthly self breast exams. If, during your self-breast exams, you notice a breast lump, pain in breast or breast area, or breast cysts, it is vital to call your doctor and schedule an appointment to get it checked out. More often than not, the lumps and bumps we may find may simply be a cyst in breast tissue that forms during your normal menstrual cycle, but it isn’t worth taking the chance to wait and see if it goes away on its own.

Unfortunately, money issues sometimes cause us to put our own health needs on hold. Insurance companies cover yearly mammograms for women age 40 and over, but if you are younger and you need a mammogram, or you are uninsured, you may be eligible for a free mammogram. Search for “free mammograms +” and your state’s abbreviation to find clinics and programs that provide mammograms free of charge or at very low cost. The National Breast Cancer Foundation also works to provide women with free mammograms, as well as support services.

One final thing to keep in mind as we do our part to reduce our risk of breast cancer. Take the time to eat healthy and include exercise in our daily routine. The National Breast Cancer Foundation shares the following healthy habits to reduce our risk of getting breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Get regular screenings

Be sure to speak with your doctor if you think you have a family history or other risk factors to consider, as this might unveil additional practices for you to try in cancer prevention.

Stay tuned for our next article in the breast cancer miniseries, which will focus on pink ribbon products you can buy to support the fight for a cure!

Kathryn M. D'Imperio
Contributing Writer

Monday, October 1, 2012

Think Pink – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast ultrasound
Breast Cancer walk (

Dubbed Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is the time of year for us to stay on top of our health, especially in terms of screening and preventive care.  Cancer statistics from Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, show that 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. Catching cancer early can improve the prognosis, so it helps to be vigilant about breast cancer screening and prevention.

While on vacation a couple of years ago, I noticed an unusual breast lump while showering.  Of course, the lump was on my mind until we got home, so I made an appointment right away to have a breast ultrasound as soon as possible.

Like many women, I am wary of various cancers and like to check with my doctor if I notice anything unusual. But, how do we know if something is serious? Does breast cancer have any symptoms?

The American Cancer Society tells us that certain unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom:

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Pain in breast
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Lump in the underarm area

These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. If you notice any changes in your breasts, you should contact your doctor and schedule an examination.  The first sign of breast cancer can be a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel. These lumps may be hard, have uneven edges and may be painless. However, cancers can also be soft and rounded, without uneven edges. This is why it is vital to have any unusual changes checked by a doctor.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening to detect breast cancer early.
  • Doing monthly self breast exams (BSE) can reveal changes before a doctor's appointment. Women know how their breasts normally look and feel, and can notice changes during a BSE.
  • At the age of 40, an annual mammogram is recommended.  Research shows early detection of breast cancer is the key to successful treatment and a better prognosis.
Check with your local hospital or health professional if you are in need of a free mammogram.  You can also type in your location and the words free mammograms (Ex. Doylestown free mammograms) to find this service in your area.

Local Pink Ribbon Events

There are many ways to support breast cancer research and prevention this month. Many companies host “pink days” encouraging employees to wear pink clothing or accessories to work and make a donation to breast cancer research. Donations often benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the National Cancer Institute and other foundations.

Here are some other suggestions for ways you can THINK PINK and do your part to support breast cancer awareness and the fight for a cure.

  • Run in a 5K race for breast cancer in your area. The Lehigh Valley sponsors the Women’s 5K Classic, which takes place October 12 and 13 of this year.
  • Enter your location and breast cancer events (Ex. Doylestown breast cancer events) in your browser’s search box. This will give you a list of events in your area.
  • Take care of your own health by getting your mammograms and doing breast self exams. Encourage your daughters, friends, moms and nieces to do the same.
  • If you or someone you know has been diagnosed, consider keeping a breast cancer journal to express your emotions and engage in positive self talk to keep your thoughts positive.
  • Host a neighborhood car wash, or rake leaves to raise donations for a local breast cancer charity.

Shop Pink
breast cancer mammograms
Many products support breast cancer research.

Many products are dedicated for sale so that proceeds go to breast cancer research and support groups. Everything from groceries and gourmet foods to clothing and jewelry can be purchased to support a cure.  Look for the specialty pink packaging. When shopping online, look for the unmistakable pink ribbon.

Stay tuned for more information about breast cancer awareness and support groups!

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer