With all the news stories appearing in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BRCA is a hot topic. As we noted last time, the highly publicized decision of some celebrities who carry the BRCA gene mutation, including actress Angelia Jolie, to undergo preventive double mastectomies has influenced more women to seek the same treatment. But cancer treatment experts say that publicity surrounding celebrity cancer prevention and treatment choices has generated an outsized fear of BRCA that is leading some women to take more dire action than may be necessary.
Naturally, each woman’s medical history and prognosis are different; but according to the Mayo Clinic, the BRCA genetic mutation is a causal factor in only about 5% of breast cancers and 10% to 15% of ovarian cancers. Even if you do carry the BRCA gene mutation, a double mastectomy may not be necessary. If you are a breast cancer survivor who does not carry the BRCA gene, your risk of developing cancer in the other breast is typically so low that a double mastectomy may not be medically indicated.
There is concern in the cancer community that fear of BRCA is leading women to make treatment choices without fully exploring all their options. Cancer is a very individualistic disease and each person’s response to cancer and cancer treatment is unique. Your decisions about preventive measures and treatment choices should be made in consultation with your Issels cancer treatment team and designed to address your personal health needs; not based on the treatment that worked for your friend, a family member or a celebrity.
Exercise could be the “magic pill” we’ve all been looking for that not only thwarts the growing incidence of chronic diseases but wards off cancer. Vital to good health, physical activity offers the mind and body a panacea of healthy benefits. Exercise promotes a healthy immune system, enhances positive mind-body connection, reduces stress and aids in weight control. Regular physical activity has also been strongly linked to both cancer prevention and reduced cancer recurrence among cancer survivors.
The importance of exercise in preventing obesity appears to be the key to its importance in preventing disease and maintaining a healthy body. As CBS News recently reported in a 2-part series on the connections between cancer and exercise, decreasing your obesity risk can reduce your risk of developing a life-threatening cancer.
Not only have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked obesity, which affects more than a third of U.S. adults, to increased incidence of chronic disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer; but the National Cancer Institute has linked obesity to increased risk of specific cancers, including cancers of the esophagus, endometrium, pancreas, colon, rectum, kidney, thyroid, gall bladder and post-menopausal breast cancer.
Why does obesity have such a profound affect on our health? Obesity appears to cause significant disruption to the body’s normal metabolic functions, even interfering with basic cell processes. We’ll discuss that next time.
In the great debate over which is better for you — coffee or tea — both offer excellent health benefits, including the ability to help prevent certain types of cancer. For cancer survivors and those actively fighting cancer, the substances in coffee and tea may give your immune system a boost and improve mind-body function, particularly your ability to cope with cancer-related stress.
In our previous post we discussed the benefits of coffee; today we focus on the cancer-fighting benefits of tea (some findings may be preliminary or based on small patient samplings, but all offer promising avenues for further research). It should be noted that while herbal teas may confer their own benefits, they do not offer the benefits noted below.
Tea. Many people find the ritual of drinking tea to be a relaxing and comforting experience. There is a mindfulness to “having a cuppa” that creates a feeling of harmony between mind and body.
Antioxidants. Tea contains high concentrations of free radical-neutralizing antioxidants. Free radicals can cause cell damage that contributes to the development of all types of cancers. When possible choose green tea which contains the highest concentration of polyphenol antioxidants.
Skin cancer. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of tea may help protect your skin against sun damage, decreasing your risk of skin cancer.
Breast cancer. In studies, drinking green tea was associated with lower breast cancer risk. Tea can interfere with chemotherapy drugs, so talk to your oncologist.
Tea and coffee offer general benefits in the battle against cancer; whereas Issels’ cancer vaccines are formulated to provide specifically targeted cancer-fighting results.
Coffee or tea? Whichever side of the beverage debate you stand on, you’ll be pleased to know that both popular beverages offer health benefits that may help prevent certain types of cancer. If you are already fighting cancer, substances in coffee and tea may boost your immune system and improve mind-body function, enhancing your ability to cope with the stress of having cancer.
Here’s a rundown on the latest findings (some findings are preliminary or based on small samplings, but all offer provocative avenues for further research):
Coffee. If you’re one of those people who can’t get their motor revving in the morning without a jolt of java, you’ll be happy to know that your morning cup of coffee comes with quite a few unsuspected benefits. If coffee gives you heartburn, try a darker roast. A substance in dark roast coffees inhibits the production of stomach acid. Just remember; as in all things, moderation is the key. The benefits listed are based on consumption of 2 to 4 cups of coffee per day.
Skin cancer. Just one cup of coffee a day may lower melanoma risk by 11%. Coffee may also aid cell repair and help the body absorb harmful ultraviolet rays, decreasing skin cancer risk.
Endometrial cancer. Coffee decreases the body’s levels of estrogen and insulin which may help lower endometrial cancer risk.
Mind-body benefits. Women benefit from coffee drinking more than men. Drinking 3 cups of coffee a day can lower women’s risk of depression by 15%. Drink a fourth cup of coffee and depression risk drops by 20%. Coffee also helps women cope with stress.