Category Archives: Health

Should You Know About Breast Cancer

Keep in mind that screening guidelines are for healthy adults. People with risk factors, such as a family history of cancer or ongoing exposure to potential carcinogens, may need to be tested more frequently.
Breast Self-Examination
What it is. Using your fingers, check for lumps, swellings, nipple discharge, skin irritation or dimpling, and other irregularities, and do a visual check of your breasts in the mirror. If you notice anything unusual, consult your doctor as soon as possible for evaluation.

How often. Begin practicing breast self-examination every month by the age of 20 and continue it throughout your life, even during pregnancy and after menopause.

Why it’s important. By examining your breasts regularly, you’ll become familiar with what your breast tissue normally feels like. This may help you detect any abnormality at a very early stage.

Points to remember. Perform this five-minute test during the week after menstruation, so that breasts aren’t swollen or tender. Postmenopausal women should choose a date that’s easy to remember each month.

Clinical Breast Examination
What it is. A physician or other trained health-care professional performs a physical breast exam that is very similar to the procedures used for breast self-examination.

How often. Women ages 20 to 39 should have one every three years; women 40 and over should have the exam annually.

Why it’s important. Most cancer experts advocate clinical breast examination, breast self-examination, and mammography together to give you the best chance of detecting breast cancer in an early stage.

Points to remember. Schedule the test for the week after your period, when breasts are least tender and when abnormalities are easiest to detect.

Mammogram
What it is. Each breast is compressed between two plastic plates, then X-rayed to detect cancer or other problems.

How often. All cancer experts agree women should have mammograms on a regular basis (every one to two years) when they’re in their 40s. However, many recommend that starting at age 40, women should have a mammogram every year. Cancer specialists suggest that women who may be at increased risk for breast cancer should consider mammograms at an earlier age.

Why it’s important. Mammography can detect cancer before a lump becomes large enough to feel. It can also help identify other breast problems.

Points to remember: For the most accurate results, schedule the test for the week after your period. Don’t wear body lotion, powder, perfume, antiperspirant, or jewelry on the day of the test.

All About Coffee

We all love our cup of java, but the jury’s still out whether coffee is healthy or harmful. Here’s what recent research has found about the potential perks (and pitfalls) of the mighty roasted bean.

Every other week, a new study is released that either demonizes or eulogizes coffee. Are there grounds for concern under the aromatic froth?

The Health Benefits of Coffee

Diabetes: A study of 14,000 people in Finland (the world’s greatest per-capita consumer of coffee) found that women who drank three to four cups a day cut their risk of developing diabetes by 29 per cent. For men, it was 27 per cent. Researchers aren’t sure why, but suspect that the antioxidants in coffee help deliver insulin to the body’s tissues.

Cancer: In Japan, a study of 90,000 people revealed those who drank coffee every day for ten years were half as likely to get liver cancer. Meanwhile, German scientists have identified an active compound in coffee called methylpyridinium that boosts enzymes thought to prevent colon cancer.

Parkinson’s Disease: Researchers in Hawaii monitored the health of more than 8,000 Japanese-American men for 30 years and discovered that those who drank a cup of coffee a day had less than half the incidence of Parkinson’s disease. A possible clue as to why: caffeine promotes the release of dopamine, a substance involved with movement and usually depleted in Parkinson’s sufferers.

Gallstones: A US study of 46,000 men who drank two to three cups of coffee a day over a ten-year period revealed they had a 40 percent lower risk of developing gallstones. Researchers believe it is because caffeine stimulates the gall bladder, flushing out substances that could turn into gallstones.

The Potentially Harmful Effects of Coffee

Heart Attack and Stroke: There’s hot debate on whether drinking coffee is a cardiac risk. A Greek study of more than 3,000 people found coffee drinkers had higher levels of inflammatory substances (which have been associated with increased rates of stroke and heart attack) in their blood than non-drinkers. But Harvard researchers looking at the health of coffee drinkers over 20 years could not pinpoint any extra coronary problems. Nevertheless, a study of 2028 Costa Ricans found those with a gene variant that processes caffeine four times slower than average, and who also drank two to three cups of coffee a day, upped their heart-attack risk by 36 per cent. As this group metabolises caffeine slower, it remains in the body for longer-possibly pushing up blood pressure.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Finnish study of 19,000 people revealed those who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers believe some as-yet-unidentified ingredient (particularly in unfiltered coffee) could trigger the disease.

Osteoporosis: A Californian study of 980 post-menopausal women found that those who drank two cups of coffee a day suffered a greater loss in bone density than those who didn’t. How come? Because caffeine acts as a diuretic, increasing the amount of calcium excreted in urine.

So… Is Coffee Healthy or Harmful?

For most of us, the humble cup of coffee is simply a harmless and enjoyable way to kick-start the day or give us an excuse for some time out. No more, no less. However, it is important to remember that different people exhibit different tolerance levels to caffeine-it is, after all, a drug.

So, while a mid-morning cappuccino will give one person a pleasant buzz, it could make another person edgy and irritable. To play it safe, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Whatever your choice-espresso or latte-keep a watch on your consumption for the sake of both your short-term and long-term health.

Know More About Binge Eating Disorder

Come February, we’re deep into winter, and the short days combined with frigid temperatures may have us reaching for our favourite comfort foods. Hot, creamy soups, rich casseroles, hot chocolate—it feels like the colder it is outside, the more we want to stay indoors and eat…and eat, and eat.

For most of us, occasionally overindulging at mealtime is okay—we simply move on, perhaps pledging to eat better tomorrow. But for some people, it’s not that simple. For those who suffer from binge eating disorder (BED), overeating brings on feelings of deep shame and self-loathing. People with the disorder feel like they lose control when they eat; they may also eat too quickly, eat beyond feeling full to the point where they’re uncomfortable, and hide their binges from others. In other words, meals and snacks become minefields of physical and emotional stressors.

So how do you know if you’re an occasional overeater, or if there could be something more serious at play, such as binge eating disorder? To find out, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I regularly consume a lot more food than most people would in a similar time period?
Do I feel out of control during an episode of bingeing?
Do I feel very upset after binge eating?
Have I binged at least once a week for the past three months?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, it might be time to have a conversation with your family doctor about your relationship with food. You are not alone: BED is the most common eating disorder in Canada, more common than anorexia and bulimia combined, and it affects both men and women. It’s not a “choice” or a “phase;” it’s a serious medical condition which is associated with mood disorders, anxiety and depression.

The good news is that BED is treatable. Options to manage the disorder include cognitive behavioural therapies and nutritional counselling. In addition, the first Health Canada-approved medication to treat BED was announced last October. Not everyone needs medication, of course, but it can be part of a healthy, holistic approach to managing the disorder.

So if you’re concerned that your eating is out of hand, don’t try to tough it out—get help! Speak with your physician, or reach out to organizations such as the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), Anorexie et Boulimie Québec (ANEB), or the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED).

Know Ways to Ease Knee Pain with Food

Millions of people have debilitating knee pain thanks to osteoarthritis. Remedies range from keeping active and dropping excess weight to steroid injections and even surgery. New research even shows that certain foods can help relieve knee pain resulting from osteoarthritis. Here’s what to add to your grocery list!

1. Got knee pain? Eat soy protein.

People with knee pain reported less discomfort and used fewer pain meds after eating soy protein every day for three months, according to Oklahoma State University research.

Soy is rich in isoflavones, plant hormones with anti-inflammatory properties. Study participants consumed a powdered soy drink mix that contained 40 grams of protein, but, says study author Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, you can get the same benefit from sources like flavoured soy milk, edamame (baby soybeans), and soy burgers.

2. Fruit can help relieve knee pain

In a study of 293 Australian adults, eating plenty of fruit reduced the risk of developing bone marrow lesions: a marker for worsening knee osteoarthritis and pain.

The knee-friendliest fruits appear to be vitamin C-packed ones, like kiwi, orange, mango, grapefruit, and papaya. The researchers suspect it’s the vitamin C in fruit that protects the knee joint and supporting structures.

3. Eat fish to fight knee pain

Many studies have found that fish and fish oil ease the joint pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis. Now a study shows that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may block not only the chemicals that cause inflammation in osteoarthritis but also the proteins known to wear down knee cartilage.

Eat two servings of oily fish (such as mackerel or salmon) weekly or take one gram of omega-3s in capsule form every day, says nutrition researcher Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD.

Tips For Longer Life

You know being active helps you live longer. If you need more incentive, then look at the recent numbers showing the effect exercise has on your well-being.

Several 30-year studies were completed in 2009 and the numbers are showing how being active and drinking water instead of soda can add to your longevity

33 Percent
That’s how much a moderately fit woman can cut her risk of dying of breast cancer, according to a three-decade study from the University of South Carolina. Women with the highest fitness levels halved their cancer risk. Getting moderately fit can be as simple as completing a daily half-hour walk. Exercising vigorously for the same amount of time will yield even higher fitness.

32 Percent
That’s the amount that men in a 35-year study at Sweden’s Uppsala University cut their risk of dying early if they were very physically active. Three hours of sports or heavy gardening a week was enough to do the trick.

3.5 Kilograms
That’s what you can lose in six months without any exercise simply by cutting back on soda or fruit-drinks. Researchers at John Hopkins University found that cutting out just one single serving make the body more efficient at reducing calories. Your body doesn’t seem to register liquid calories as accurately as those from solid foods, says lead author Benjamin Caballero, MD. Reducing sugary beverages gives you a significant payoff