Tag Archives: PALB2

Genetic Counselling BRCA Testing

Genetic Counselling BRCA Testing

Knowledge is Power. Now our job is to prove this to the world. Seeking genetic counselling BRCA testing could empower you to live a healthier lifestyle.
We so often want a crystal ball to gaze into our future. We have a number of crystal balls. These are crystal balls based on science and research, customized to our own unique DNA. I am referring to genetic testing, specifically BRCA testing.
With all of our many loves, accomplishments, dreams…they are all for not without our health – health is the very greatest wealth of all. There is a cliche out there – but it is most unfortunately Oh so true….Youth is wasted on the young, which goes hand in hand with hind sight is 20/20. My plea here is that none of you fall into this abyss, and you opt for earlier genetic testing.

If you were cruising along on a mountain road just beckoning us to speed, would you slow down if you knew there were a cliff with a 500 foot drop around the next bend? Of course you would.

genetic counselling BRCA testing
Shira Litwack Medical Fitness Professional, Cancer Exercise Specialist , Corporate wellness Provider Industry expert cancer exercise
Radio talk show host

My #1 goal of this article is to empower people to take charge of their health’s destiny – speak to health care professionals – every one of us can prosper from a good MD and ND. Open dialogue with a number of health care professionals, and determine if genetic testing is right for you.

We have the power for genetic screening for BRCA1 BRCA2 and PALB2. All three genetic mutations are associated with a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

A breast cancer, BRCA gene test is a blood test to check for specific gene mutations that help control normal cell growth. Finding changes in these genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, can help determine the chance of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.

The BRCA gene is a tumor suppressor gene. The BRCA gene mutation is also associated with male breast cancer, fallopian tube cancer, peritoneal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer. BRCA1 & BRCA2 are responsible for producing a tumor suppressing protein. Tumor suppressor proteins help prevent cells from growing and dividing too rapidly or uncontrollably. When there is a mutation in these genes, they do not produce the protein, or it does not function properly, therefore threatening the stability of the cells by the cell not being able to repair damaged DNA. Our cells take hundreds of hits daily from oxidative stressors in our lives, our bodies must be equipped to repair, otherwise, serious illness results.

Let’s consider some data on BRCA and breast/ovarian cancer. (cancer.gov)

  • 12% of women in general population get breast Cancer
  • 55%-65% of BRCA1 carriers will develop breast cancer before 70 years of age
  • 45% of BRCA carriers will develop breast cancer before age 70
  • About 1.3% of general population will get ovarian cancer
  • 39% of women with BRCA1 and 11-17% with BRCA2 will develop ovarian cancer before 70
  • Mayo Clinic: BRCA gene mutations are responsible for about 5 percent of breast cancers and about 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cancers.

Most women with breast cancer and/or a family history of breast cancer do not have an abnormal gene, and not all women who have inherited one of these genes will develop cancer.

Genetic testing is a subset of genetic counselling. I am NOT a genetic counsellor…but I do know the incredible power of proactively planning lifestyle choices over reactive planning. Genetic counselling is the process by which we can learn and understand relevant aspects of our own genetics, offering us assistance in clarifying options available for any decisions that might be necessary with the newly acquired genetic insight. The psychological component is emphasized equally to the physiological aspect – blood sampling. However, it is equally important to research where you would like to do your genetic counselling. Many doctors offer testing, however, please seek out in your community genetic centers, which can often offer more in-depth consultations by genetic counsellors.

There are a number of choices available if the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tests are positive. And I feel very compelled to remind everyone here, testing negative does NOT give you a get out of jail for free card. A life to prevent cancer is the healthiest lifestyle of all.

If the genetic tests are BRCA positive a genetic counsellor will help you plan and make decisions. Again, various options are available:

  • Prophylactic mastectomy -removal of both breasts,…has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in high-risk women by about 90%. However, people need to be alerted breast cancer testing changes after a mastectomy. To be discussed with your counsellor.
  • Prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy, or removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes, reduces breast cancer risk up to 50% if done before menopause, as it takes away the body’s main source of the hormone estrogen. It also can greatly reduce ovarian cancer risk.
  • Hormonal therapies
  • Discuss pros and cons of modified screening procedures
  • Opt to modify lifestyle choices
  • A combination. a woman who is tested in her early 20s might decide to modify lifestyle choices, and opt for prophylactic surgery later….this is what genetic counsellors will discuss with you.

One of the many perks of having genetic testing at a younger age, is having the knowledge and power to make lifestyle decisions that can impact your life. These lifestyle choices will not only help prevent breast and ovarian cancer, but are guidance to prevent all of our chronic illnesses.

Please remember, screening does NOT replace a proactive lifestyle and vice versa.

Some of the well documented choices to prevent breast cancer include:

  • Limiting alcohol. Even one drink a day increases risk of breast cancer, and it takes very little more to dramatically increase the risk.
  • Don’t smoke, and this includes “vaping”
  • control body fat levels
  • Exercise and physical activity. However, I feel compelled to mention that excessive, strenuous exercise can be a source of oxidative stress. This is where you need to consult with a qualified exercise professional – specialized in cancer and medical fitness. Many exercise professionals are completely unaware of this. Our outer being does not necessarily reflect our cellular health.
  • Breast feeding: Many women choose not to breast feed. Another potential reward of earlier testing is making the choice to breast feed. According to the Mayo clinic breast feeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer. The longer we breast feed, the greater the reduction.
  • Far too overlooked – learn about potential oxidative stressors, mutagens, viruses, toxins in your life that could potentially lead to DNA damage. Every one of us need to evaluate our level of oxidative stress.Genetic counselling BRCA testing could give you that push to learn about one of our greatest threats to our cellular health.

Most unfortunately, in this world we must consider legal implications of genetic testing. One more aspect of genetic testing I urge everybody to look into in GINA….Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, prevents your insurance company from denying coverage or changing premiums on the basis of your genetic testing results. It also protects from discrimination by employers on the basis of the test or its results. However, it is not as clear cut with other insurance policies, such as life insurance. I urge everybody, as part of planning to look at:

United States:  Cancer Legal Resource Center’s national Telephone Assistance Line (866-THE-CLRC)

Canada: May 3, 2016 – Bill S-201: An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination was tabled in the House of Commons. A number of provinces already have legislation – best to check with your MPP office to see where the genetic discriminatory laws stand.

The “deer in headlights” refers to being caught off guard – eyes opened wide and forcefully, but no ability for motor response. A terrifying thought. Genetic counselling BRCA testing can prevent the deer in headlights. There are many of us who can live longer, happier, healthier lives, more confident lives, my consulting with a genetic counsellor. A counsellor can help you weigh out the decision to have or not have testing, based on YOU. And for many reasons, our chances are increased dramatically the earlier we have this knowledge and can be encouraged to make wiser decisions.

Genetic counselling BRCA testing………Knowledge is power.

Shira@BestInHealthRadio.com

 

Breast Cancer Recovery with Exercise

Breast Cancer Recovery: Shira Litwack Interviewed By Dr. Jonathan Whiteson

Breast Cancer Awareness month – Listen to Shira Litwack on Sirius Radio interviewed by Dr. Jonathan Whiteson Director of the Cardiac and Pulmonary Wellness and Rehabilitation program at the Rusk Institute. Doctor Radio “Rehabilitative Medicine”, October 6, 2014 show

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

Exercise is a vital partner in both Breast Cancer prevention, in recovery, and the little spoken about prevention of metastases. We all know to exercise for heart health. Yes, heart disease kills more women every year than breast cancer.

Even if we are BRCA or PALB2 positive, the right exercise can help in the prevention. Most women who develop breast cancer do NOT carry the BRCA gene mutation, and many women who do carry the mutation do not develop breast cancer. Lifestyle choices are huge in the prevention of breast cancer.

However, this does go far beyond exercise. Often, people are exposed to mutagens, unknowingly, oxidative stressors and endocrine disruptors, all of which can feed cancer. Therefore, getting informed, can help dramatically in prevention.

and women….alcohol is NOT your friend, at all. 

A few quick bits on the role of exercise:

Physical Inactivity: The saddest part here is – most people do not know what this means. Its not about going to the gym X number of times per week. Its not about becoming a competitive athlete, and it is far more than going for walks – however a good start. Physical activity for chronic disease prevention/management requires cardiorespiratory, building muscle mass at all ages avoiding sarcopenia, cachexia, stretching & flexibility……The misconceptions here are terrifying – its not about hiring a personal trainer, and your physical activity should not be dependent on going to the gym. Physical activity is just as critical for emotional, psychological & cognitive health as it is for physical health. Let us find the exercise & physical activity that meets your personal needs. Remember: physical activity, exercise, training.

Obesity: Obesity is a chronic illness unto itself. Even if you insist you can’t lose the weight, it is no less deadly. Our body is not happy to be at that weight. Long term sustainable fat loss is a science. It is far more than calories in, calories out and throw in some exercise. It is NOT just about will power.
Obesity is the major contributing factor to certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes….just about every disease, contributes to emotional health issues, and obesity induced cirrhosis of the liver, which can lead to liver cancer has over taken alcohol cirrhosis of the liver & is growing exponentially.

Poor Eating Habits: Notice how I listed this separately to obesity. Ever heard of skinny fat syndrome? Just because a person appears to be at a healthy body weight, does not mean they are eating a healthy diet, it does not mean they have a healthy body composition. Our diet – is our very best defense against chronic illness along with physical activity. We are what we eat, digest & absorb.