The BRCA Gene and Cancer: Do You Really Want to Know?

I’ve had to tell a lot of women that they have ovarian cancer throughout my career. It’s not easy. I also routinely tell women they are BRCA-positive.  Trust me, it is much less difficult to talk about strategies to decrease or eliminate the risk of cancer than to tell someone they already have it.

Half a million women in the United States have the BRCA gene mutation, but only 4% are aware of it. In other words, 96% of woman that are at very high risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer don’t even know it.

Women with a BRCA mutation have up to an 87% risk of developing breast cancer. These breast cancers occur at a much younger age, often before women are advised to get mammograms. The only way to significantly reduce one’s risk in this case is to prophylactically remove the breasts, and many BRCA carriers choose mastectomy and reconstruction. Others opt for close surveillance with mammography and MRIs starting at age 25.

Women with a BRCA mutation also have a 44% risk of developing ovarian cancer as opposed to the 1.4% risk found in the general population. The best way to significantly decrease one’s chance is to surgically remove ovaries before cancer cells start to grow. Many women choose not to do that, or want to wait until they have completed their families. In those cases, there are a number of risk-reducing strategies. Read more  »

Breaking: Gynecologists Recommend Birth Control Pills Be Made Available Over-the-Counter!

Mexico is known for beautiful beaches, great guacamole and, as any woman who’s forgotten to bring along that all-important pack of pills knows, over-the-counter hormonal contraception. That’s right. You can wander into any pharmacy in Mexico and pick up a pack of birth control pills without a prescription – a convenience that doesn’t exist in the US.

A lot of people, including most gynecologists, think that should change. And, in a bold move, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has just released a position statement recommending that oral contraceptive pills be sold over-the-counter.

The reasons for that endorsement are clear. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 50% of the pregnancies that occur in the United States each year are unplanned. By age 45, half of all American women will experience an unintended pregnancy. Every year, failed contraception, or no contraception, contributes to 3.2 million unintended pregnancies. Read more  »

Why You Can Never Have Too Many Tomatoes

Whether you enjoy placing plum red tomatoes in your salads or snacking on bite-sized, cherry tomatoes, your body loves this tasty and tart powerhouse for all its nutritional benefits.

Combat Cancer With Tomatoes

Over the past several years, countless studies have demonstrated the potency of the carotenoid known as lycopene. Lycopene has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk for multiple cancers, including prostate, colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancer. Read more  »

Possibly the Easiest Path to Fewer Pimples

Take a moment to picture all of the dirt, grime, pollution and day-old makeup on your skin at the end of the day. It seems obvious, but the way you wash your face can affect how good your skin looks.

If you don’t do a good job cleansing every night before bed, all of these things can clog your pores and cause breakouts.

But it’s not as simple as haphazardly splashing your face for two seconds with whatever is laying around. Sunscreen and makeup are stubborn little buggers that don’t go down without a fight, and most regular cleansers can’t handle them.

Makeup and sunscreen are designed to keep from sliding off your face during the day, so their ingredients cling to skin like no other. It’s not a big deal – you just have to know the right way to dissolve them. Read more  »

Should You Be Snacking on Seaweed?

That’s the question you may be asking yourself as this hot new food trend makes its way to a supermarket shelf near you. And manufacturers are hoping your answer will be yes.

Of course, what we call “seaweed” isn’t actually a weed at all, but rather a variety of nutrient-dense macroalgae, with names like wakame (used in miso soup), kombu, nori (used to wrap sushi) and more. And while you may associate seaweed with something you peel off your legs after an ocean swim rather than something you serve at the dinner table, seaweed is making waves in the world of superfoods because of its potential health and weight-loss benefits. Read more  »

Turmeric: The Golden Spice of Life for Better Health

Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Indian cooking as the main ingredient in curry. Turmeric gives Indian dishes a deep golden color. It is also a key medicinal tool in ayurveda, the ancient medical tradition of India, to treat a multitude of conditions.

Turmeric is one of the safest, most ancient and easily accessible home remedies in the world. It has a broad number of uses, is easily stored, and is inexpensive. Adding turmeric to your spice rack effortlessly turns your kitchen into a natural resource for health and healing.

Recently, turmeric has gained the recognition of the scientific community for its potential for lowering cholesterol, reducing blood sugar in diabetics, relieving arthritis, supporting liver function, improving digestion, reducing menstrual cramps, reducing inflammation in the colon, wound healing, fighting cancer and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Its broad medicinal uses are due to its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antioxidant qualities.

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Working Too Much, Not Sleeping Enough?

When you’re busy with work, and responsibilities at home, does your sleep suffer? Do you get to bed later than you’d planned, or wake in the early morning already thinking about all you need to tackle during the day? If so, you have a lot of company.

According to a recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one-third of workers in the United States aren’t getting enough sleep. The CDC examined more than 15,000 responses to the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, analyzing the data for information about the sleep habits of working people. In their analysis, CDC researchers looked at workers’ sleep in relation to several demographic factors, including age, gender, race and ethnicity, marital status, education and type of employment.

The study found that overall, 30% of workers in the US are sleeping for no more than 6 hours a day. That’s at best an hour short of the 7-8 hours of daily sleep that most of us need. The rates of low sleep among different industries vary significantly, ranging from a low of 24.1% for an industry category titled “other services, except public administration” to a high of 41.6% for workers in the mining industry. More than a third of manufacturing workers – 34% – reported sleeping no more than 6 hours on a daily basis. Read more  »

What Do Red Wine and Cutting Calories Have in Common?

Animals live one-third longer with better health (to reach the equivalent of 150-160 human years) if they are forced to eat 15-35% less calories than normal. Why? The damage too many calories does is damage to the second set of DNA you have in all cells, the DNA in your cell area called your mitochondria. When you damage that mitochondrial DNA, you produce less energy from the same amount of nutrients.

What does this have to do with red wine? Studies suggest that the resveratrol in red wine (it gives it some of its red color) protects your mitochondrial DNA like calorie restriction does by turning on a chemical named sirtuin and the DAF-16 gene complex.

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