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Breast Cancer Awareness = Alcohol Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness Necessitates Facing the Realities of Alcohol

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The truth is drinking alcohol is a game of Russian Roulette for breast cancer.

Fuel to the fire, alcohol to estrogen..… Alcohol is a cause of breast cancer. There is no such thing as a little poison, poison in moderation. Poison is poison. Alcohol is NOT our friend. One in eight women will get breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness:

All major cancer institutions agree – the 3 most influential lifestyle choices paramount to maintaining breast health are:

  • controlling body fat level
  • limiting alcohol
  • Being physically active

They are all important – being vigilant about 2, does not ease the burden of onus on the  third.  All 3  of these lifestyle factors have a common theme – they all either add to the estrogen load, or estrogen exposure (body fat and alcohol) or they ease the hormonal strain from estrogen (physical activity).

Women who are carriers of any of the inherited defective genes, BRCA, PALB2, HBOC… have a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Minimizing, even better eliminating alcohol would be an  outstanding prophylactic choice. Alcohol is also associated with an increased risk of recurrence of breast cancer.

 

Shira Interviewed on Rehabilitative Medicine, Doctor Radio Sirius XM, Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2016

A few myths to dispel and annihilate immediately:

  • A glass of wine a day is NOT good for you – not for your heart, not for any part of you
  • The health effects of alcohol start with the very first glass
  • Alcohol does not reduce stress, it causes physiological stress, oxidative stress, inflammation, cellular dysfunction.

“Moderation”, social drinking, are vague concepts perpetuated by those marketing alcohol       ….they are not representative of guidelines supported by  health professionals.  These are concepts people want to believe, and many health professionals believe they encourage people to drink more. True breast cancer awareness means we cannot hang on to old myths but must heed to current scientific research.

One drink equals:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

The National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. In 1988, the IARC (International Agency for Cancer Research) declared alcohol a carcinogen

The fact is that alcohol is a contributing factor to all of our major illnesses…heart disease, at least 7 types of cancer, liver disease, obesity, mental health issues, immune dysfunction,  with inflammation being at the root cause. I feel compelled to mention here heart disease kills more women each year than breast cancer, in fact, more women than all cancers combined.

According to the CDC, alcohol costs  each year:

  • 88,000 lives. According to the American Journal of Public Health, 20,000 cancer deaths in the US per year are attributed to alcohol. 15% of those deaths were breast cancer. This equals 6,000 breast cancer deaths per year in the US attributable to alcohol. What is even more shocking, studies in New Zealand showed that the majority of women whose breast cancer was attributed to alcohol, drank no more than “a glass a day”. A real slap of breast cancer awareness!
  • $223 Billion Dollars: health care costs, lost productivity at work, motor vehicle accidents, criminal justice system
Breast Cancer Awareness - Alcohol and breast cancer Best In Health Radio
The Many Health Effects of Alcohol: An interview with Cardiologist Dr. Holly Andersen, Surgical Urologist Dr. Andrew Siegel, Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Diamond & Public Health Physician & Author of the July 2016 study “Alcohol Causes Cancer” on Best In Health Radio

In July 2016, New Zealand Public Health Physician and Epidemiologist Dr. Jennie Connor released an extensive study commissioned by the Center for Addiction. The study was a compilation of thousands of world wide meta analyses studying the relationship between alcohol and cancer. The conclusion was that alcohol causes cancer in at least 7 sites in the body. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Connor twice. Once on her own, and the second time with a panel of 3 other health professionals I assembled, discussing the many health effects of alcohol: Dr. Holly Andersen, Cardiologist,  Dr. Michael Diamond Psychiatrist, & Dr. Andrew Siegel, Surgical Urologist.

Breast Cancer Awareness……..There are a number of ways in which it is thought that alcohol causes breast cancer.

  • Alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
  • Girls aged 9 to 15 who drink three to five drinks a week have three times the risk of developing benign breast lumps,  which are associated with a higher risk  (500% higher risk) of breast cancer later in life. One particular of these studies from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr Graham Colditz study author states ‘“If a female averages a drink per day between her first period and her first full-term pregnancy, she increases her risk of breast cancer by 13 percent”. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 40% of college age women admit to binge drinking…..those that admit.
  • Alcohol (ethanol) is converted into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde in our body, damaging the DNA, in a number of possible ways and preventing cells from repairing this damage
  • Alcohol causes rapid regrowth of liver cells, which frequently have altered DNA
  • Alcohol is a solvent. When someone consumes alcohol and smokes they exponentially increase their risk for cancer as the alcohol enables the mutagenic chemicals in the tobacco to be better absorbed into the body
  • Alcohol is a cause of oxidative stress, producing ROS – Reactive Oxygen Species which alter the DNA
  • Alcohol encourages the body to store fat. It provides the body with almost  as many calories as fat, yet there is no benefit to the body, only burden. We know body fat cells can be thought of as active endocrine glands, secreting hormones upsetting hormonal balance. Hormonal balance is critical in disease prevention.
  • Still being studied…alcohol interferes with folate metabolism – which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer
  • As I try and mention in every article I write, our muscle mass is our BFF – Best Friend Forever – protecting us from illness in numerous ways, their great looks is merely a reward for good effort. Muscles are critical for immune function, sugar regulation, metabolism…just to name a few. Alcohol lowers testosterone levels (critical for both men and women to build muscle and as we mentioned earlier raises estrogen levels.  Alcoholic Myopathy – Alcohol destroys muscle mass AND interferes with protein synthesis, not allowing the body to build more muscle mass. In an alcohol free body – studies have shown us people have the ability to grow muscle mass well into their 90s. Alcohol also depletes the body of many vitamins and minerals critical to muscle growth.
  • Alcohol dehydrates, proven in numerous studies hydration is a key step in cancer prevention

Abstaining from alcohol for periods of time and binge drinking (defined as 4 or more glasses of alcohol per sitting (see measures of a glass above) is associated with pancreatic cancer.

A glass of wine a day is not good for the heart. According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 500mg of Resveratrol ( used as the rationalization that wine is healthy) are necessary to provide health benefits. A glass of red wine has 12.5mg of resveratrol. To meet the potential health benefits of resveratrol would require drinking 40 litres of wine per day. Older studies which tried to claim that a glass of wine a day was good for you have been dissected, proving what was thought as a benefit of the alcohol, has been attributed to other factors, not the alcohol. The scientific methods in these studies was painfully loose. I think we can all think of a number of heart smart activities!

The bottom line is: Alcohol is a carcinogen and increases our risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. Breast Cancer awareness necessitates accepting the realities of alcohol on breast cancer. It increases our risk of most chronic diseases. We can still engage in the many social aspects of drinking alcohol, we can substitute the alcohol with other choices…….save our money and our health!

Shira Litwack Medical fitness, Corporate wellness, Radio talk show host
Shira Litwack Medical Fitness Professional, Cancer Exercise Specialist , Corporate wellness Provider Industry expert cancer exercise
Radio talk show host
Health & Fitness Educator

Shira Litwack – founder Best In Health Radio & proudly speaker at the International Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Summit December 2016:

Corporate Health Programs – What an Incredible Way to Make the World A Healthier Happier Place…..so we make them affordable to EVERYONE……Shira@BestInHealthRadio.com

Shira Litwack, Medical fitness professional |Cancer Exercise Specialist|Personal & Corporate Health Coach | Fitness For Disease Recovery| Industry Expert Cancer Exercise| Health and Fitness Professionals’ Educator

Director of International Relations Cancer Exercise Training Institute Master Trainer

Radio talk show host/Guest/Producer Health & Fitness Radio

BSc Psychology & Chemistry| Medical Exercise Specialist|Holistic Nutrition| Addiction Recovery|Total of 18 exercise designations

Articles featured in: ezines, ArticlesInk, European Registry of Exercise Professionals, The National Post, Investment Executive Magazine, Directory of Greater Toronto, Canadian Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Anytime Fitness, Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Seniors, Fitness Clubs of Canada, Medical Fitness Network, Recovery on Water, Willow (Breast Cancer), Sirius XM Doctor Radio, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Cancer Exercise Training Institute,  Urban Poling for Breast Cancer Recovery,

Glycemic Index with Dr. David Jenkins

Glycemic Index- Mastering our Master Hormone Insulin for Every Aspect of our Health

The Glycemic Index, the creation of Dr. David Jenkins, revolutionized the health industry. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jenkins back in 2010 – and given that it is still popular on iTunes – thought I would share it again here on Best In Health Radio.

Insulin is truly the master of our metabolism – this master hormone is produced by the pancreas and used by the liver, muscle cells, and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood (from the food consumed) and is stored in the muscle & liver cells as glycogen. Therefore, insulin controls the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood by taking it up into the cells. Insulin our of control reeks havoc on every cell and every organ system in the body. Now you know why it has earned the name “the master hormone”.

Of course at the top of everyone’s list of concerns is weight management. When we eat carbohydrates (sugar) our bodies release insulin in order to take that sugar out of the blood and into the cells.

Glycemic Index with Dr. David Jenkins Best in Health Radio
Live Laugh Love ……Liberate with Best In Health Radio Health Processes

I urge everybody not to think strictly about weight management. Managing our insulin by respecting the Glycemic index, is proving repeatedly to be a key aspect of chronic disease prevention and management – yes – including cancer. Insulin management is one of those tasks that truly reigns as an omnipotent factor in our health including:

  • menopausal weight gain
  • breast cancer, colon cancer…….
  • mood
  • heart disease, kidney disease…….

When there is no insulin in the blood – body uses fat as an energy source.

Most of us want to burn body fat. Therefore, don’t have insulin surging through our blood. Therefore, ditch the empty sugar, keep it complex – carbs that is.

Type I diabetes = the pancreas is unable to produce insulin

Type II diabetes = (aka insulin resistant) body does not respond effectively to insulin

This use to be called “adult onset” diabetes, however, with the obesity epidemic & horrible eating habits & yes “move” has become a four letter word- many kids are now dealing with diabetes.

Insulin allowed to flow wildly destroys the heart, kidneys, liver, cognitive ability, sexual performance, nervous system, high blood pressure, stroke, cholesterol, and can lead to certain cancers. Insulin resistance can reduce our bodies ability to absorb magnesium – a critical mineral – one of its many responsibilities is the relaxation phase of the heartbeat. Insulin resistance can also lead to osteoporosis & Alzheimer’s. Insulin controls all of our other vital hormones – ghrelin, leptin, thyroid, growth hormone, cortisol….you get the message. Therefore it is the master control behind much of our metabolic function.

OK – so hopefully we get it and we have to control our insulin levels.

Enter the Glycemic Index: We all owe tremendous thanks to Dr. David Jenkins, from right here in our beautiful Toronto. Not all carbs affect blood sugar levels. The genius of Dr. Jenkins – he came up with a ranking of how different carbohydrates manipulate the release of insulin into our bodies.

Low GI = below 55

Medium GI = 55-69

High GI – Above 70

Clearly, we want to aim for eating lower GI foods. FYI= white bread = 100GI. The Glycemic Index is the MOST logical way to choose the foods we eat. The GI not only helps us manage our weight, but helps protect us against disease of every system in the body. Hint: eat high fiber foods – that’s a really good start!

And……don’t forget those muscles! Strength training – cherishing your muscle mass – is a co-powerhouse with the glycemic index for blood sugar control an every aspect of our health.

 

Shira Litwack Medical fitness, Corporate wellness, Radio talk show host

Breast Cancer Recovery with Pole Walking

Breast Cancer Recovery with More Cancer Exercise

Breast cancer recovery demands a solid, safe cancer exercise program. Yes, exercise and physical activity are vital to any healthy lifestyle, disease prevention or recovery program. Please may I introduce you to another great exercise partner – pole walking.

I have had the pleasure of a new walking buddy – a set of 4life poles from Urban Poling. I would like to share with you some of the wonderful health benefits, especially as part of a  breast cancer recovery program. Even better…Urban Poling donates 2% of all proceeds to breast cancer research…..And….Urban Poling donated poles and training to cancer wellness centres in Ontario, BC, AB and Dalhousie university in NS.

Lymphedema is a possibility in breast cancer recovery as with any cancer treatment involving lymph node removal or radiation. Survivors should always consult their health care professional for:

a) Permission to resume exercise, and be aware of any contraindications

b) Recommendations for compression garments and proper fitting

c) Cancer exercise is different. Contraindications must be avoided. Maximize the benefits. Many stereotypes over exercise can be dangerous. Work with someone who is specialized in cancer exercise.

Yes, caution and vigilance are a necessity, but a thorough, carefully planned fitness program is a crucial part of disease recovery, and a healthy lifestyle for all.

Breast Cancer Recovery with Best in Health Radio
Live Laugh Love ……Liberate with Best In Health Radio Health Processes

The obvious that stands out about pole walking for breast cancer recovery is helping people (men and women) with range of motion challenges often faced after treatment. However, there are many other aspects of pole fitness I would like to point out. Far too often in recovery from breast cancer, or any surgery, the immediate surgical area is focused on, the truth is the entire body, is the immediate surgical area.

Think of our body as an ecosystem. Every part of the ecosystem has a crucial function, and when one part is struggling, the entire ecosystem is compromised. When trained properly in form and cardio respiratory management, pole fitness can be a valuable partner in balancing and optimizing the ecosystem by:

  • a wide range of cardio respiratory training options
  • Range of motion and flexibility training
  • metabolic support
  • Development of the Power pump muscles
  • Body fat management and lean muscle mass development
  • affordable and attainable
  • Balance, core strength & postural training
  • hormonal ….mood balance
  • minimizing side effects of treatment – during treatment and beyond
  • Social aspects
  • Fun = adherence

All of these are performance partners in an  effective exercise program, but are also beneficial to lymphedema prevention. Let’s remember lymphedema can happen any time after treatment…even 20 years later.  Unfortunately as a person ages, fitness levels are much harder to maintain. Changes in body fat percentages, lean to fat ratios, can be dangerously conducive to lymphedema.

Cardio respiratory training is vital – and it is critical to include a broad range of training – target heart rate zones are far too often over looked. Health care professionals might recommend a particular target heart rate zone to be respected faithfully. Even for those ready to train in higher zones, it is still important to vary training from easier demands of 40% capacity up to the higher ranges of 75-80% capacity. Constantly training in the more vigorous range can be a source of physiological stress and oxidative stress. Far too overlooked in conventional training – we should all make disease prevention a focus of our training. Many traditional training beliefs are not wise for disease prevention.

Something that women are often far more guilty of is appreciating our muscle mass. Simply put, out muscle mass is our BFF(best friend forever)  in life. Besides the obvious functions, little known is our immune system is helpless without strong muscles. Muscles are the pump of the immune system. Our power pump muscles as I refer to above are our gluteal and leg muscles. Strengthening the power pump muscles is vital for heart health, venous return (VR) to the heart. VR is the flow of blood back to the heart. Muscles are also vital for metabolic control, adiposity management, hormonal and mood control.

The 4Life poles are fully adjustable – allowing a proper fit. It is a very difficult exercise for me to be at the gym, watching MOST people destroying their posture on the machinery. Most people have compromised posture due to their day to day activities – screen time, driving, poor muscle balance…rounded shoulder syndrome, spinal subluxation (misaligned back), exaggerated pelvic tilt.  Good posture affects every aspect of bodily function, comfort, and healthy aging.

A feature of the 4Life poles I especially appreciated was the lack of vibration. Many poles you feel a rippling through the body – not cool. Those vibrations add up to stress on the joints over the years. At every age, we must prioritize keeping our body “young” flowing smoothly.

The handles do not have straps – personally I find straps a nuisance as well as a potential danger. There is no hand cramping or sweaty palms due to the shape.

Every major city has pole walking clubs – and if you do live in a town without, or there are no groups near you – start one. We are social creatures. An analysis by Stats Canada provided convincing data highlight “the importance of frequent social participation to maintaining quality of life.”

“The greater the number of frequent social activities, the higher the odds of positive self-perceived health, and the lower the odds of loneliness and life dissatisfaction,”

Physical activity within a group – being part of a pack – greatly increases chances of adherence.

Breast Cancer Recovery with Cancer Exercise Specialist Shira Litwack
Shira Interviewed on Sirius XM “Doctor Radio” for Breast Cancer Awareness month

And speaking of adherence…….the fun factor with the 4Life poles…..I have never met anyone looking for another torturous, miserable thing to do in their life. Pole walking is fun and exhilarating.  It becomes a focal point of our schedule. And yes, living in Canada – the weather is a brutal reality. I actually used the poles with indoor training with clients. ………We called it – Dancing with the Poles!

I leave the 4Life poles in my front entrance – they are always clean and sparkling as they are durable and very washable looking brand new. They are a source of intrigue (unfortunately I find most people are unaware of pole walking) and motivation for the many people of all ages that come through my home.

Exercise should not be an intrusion in our lives, and should be something we look forward to. After using the 4Life poles  for a few months – myself and within my medical fitness practice – whether it be outside winter and spring or inside Dancing with the Poles” …..they provide hours of invigorating and fun, complete exercise. Get trained with them properly, and reap the benefits for years!