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Fight Like a Girl

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October is breast cancer awareness month and an ideal time to learn all you can about the steps you can take to prevent the most common cancer affecting women in the developed world.

 

The information that follows will be much different from what is often spouted from anti-cancer organizations like the American Cancer Society (ACS), as — unlike ACS — I have no financial ties to both makers of mammography equipment and cancer drugs.

 

My advice for cancer prevention is much more straightforward, involving simple lifestyle strategies that virtually everyone has the power to make.

 

All you need to become empowered to make these cancer-preventive changes is knowledge, and that is what I seek to give you by the time you finish reading this comment … I suggest you not only learn this information for your own benefit, but also share it with other women in your life as well.

 

Using the Wrong Antiperspirant May Influence Your Breast Cancer Risk

Putting on antiperspirant is a routine part of most people’s day, and you may not think much about it. But here’s why you should: if you use one containing aluminum, you could be increasing your risk of breast cancer.

 

Antiperspirants work by clogging, closing, or blocking the pores that release sweat under your arms — with the active ingredient being aluminum. Not only does this block one of your body’s routes for detoxification (releasing toxins via your underarm sweat), but it raises concerns about where these metals are going once you roll them (or spray them) on.

 

Research, including one study published this year in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, has shown that the aluminum is not only absorbed by your body, but is deposited in your breast tissue and even can be found in nipple aspirate fluid a fluid present in the breast duct tree that mirrors the microenvironment in your breast. Researchers determined that the mean level of aluminum in nipple aspirate fluid was significantly higher in breast cancer-affected women compared to healthy women, which may suggest a role for raised levels of aluminum as a biomarker for identification of women at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

 

Cancer-Causing Aluminum From Antiperspirant May Collect in Your Breasts

In a study published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, researchers tested breast samples from 17 breast-cancer patients who had undergone mastectomies. The women who used antiperspirants had deposits of aluminum in their outer breast tissue. Concentrations of aluminum were higher in the tissue closest to the underarm than in the central breast.

 

Why is this a glaring red flag?

 

Aluminum is not normally found in the human body, so this study was a pretty clear sign that the metal was being absorbed from antiperspirant sprays and roll-ons. Please note that aluminum is typically only found in antiperspirants. If you are using a deodorant-only product it is unlikely to contain aluminum but might contain other chemicals that could be a concern.

 

Aluminum salts can account for 25 percent of the volume of some antiperspirants, and a review of the common sources of aluminum exposure for humans found that antiperspirant use can significantly increase the amount of aluminum absorbed by your body. According to the review, after a single underarm application of antiperspirant, about .012 percent of the aluminum may be absorbed.

 

This may not sound like much until you multiply it by one or more times a day for a lifetime, which adds up to massive exposure to aluminum — a poison that is not supposed to be in your body, and may be more toxic than mercury. Aluminum salts can mimic the hormone estrogen, and chemicals that imitate that hormone are known to increase breast cancer risk. Animal studies have also found that aluminum can cause cancer. Aside from vaccinations, your antiperspirant may be your largest source of exposure to this poisonous metal!

 

You Need to be Careful with Natural Deodorants, Too

There are many brands of aluminum-free deodorants on the market, and many of these are safe alternatives. And as a general rule, deodorants tend to be less problematic than antiperspirants, as they work by neutralizing the smell of your sweat and by antiseptic action against bacteria, rather than by preventing sweating. As such, some deodorants do not contain any aluminum, but you’ve got to be careful about this. While many claim to be aluminum-free, they are referring to aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide or aluminum zirconium, which are the types most commonly used in antiperspirants and deodorants.

 

“Crystal” deodorant stones, which are a popular natural deodorant alternative often used by health-conscious shoppers looking to avoid aluminum, often claim to be aluminum-free, but some actually contain a different type of compound known as an alum, the most common form being potassium alum, also known as potassium aluminum sulfate.

 

Potassium Alum or Ammonium Alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin. They form a protective layer on your skin that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. These deodorants are recommended by many cancer treatment centers, but while this may be a better alternative to most antiperspirants and deodorants on the market, it is not completely aluminum-free.

 

So be sure, when choosing a natural deodorant alternative, that it truly is made of toxin-free ingredients. Aluminum is just one of them — you can find other chemical toxins to avoid in your personal care products here.  Alternatively, just use plain soap and water. This is what I use, typically in the morning and after I exercise.

 

Additionally, last year I found an ever more effective strategy and that is to expose your armpits to sunshine. Essentially you tan your armpits. The UVB rays in the sunlight are highly effective germicidal agents and sterilize your armpits in addition to raising your levels of vitamin D sulfate to healthy levels.

 

Do Bras Cause Breast Cancer?

You might be surprised to hear this, but wearing certain types of bras might not be in your best interest. In fact, if you’re in the habit of wearing the most popular styles, you may be setting yourself up for some potentially serious health problems. This includes:

 

Tight-Fitting Bras

 

Many physicians and researchers agree that wearing a tight-fitting bra can cut off lymph drainage, which may contribute to the development of breast cancer because your body will be less able to excrete all the toxins you’re exposed to on a daily basis. Aluminum from antiperspirants is one potentially dangerous source of toxins that can accumulate if your lymph drainage is impaired.

 

You can avoid some of the improper drainage issues if you wear a bra that is properly fitted, so I suggest you make an appointment with a bra-fitting specialist to help you get the proper fit.

Underwire Bras

 

Nearly all underwire bras contain metal underwires coated with plastic. It is the metal that could be problematic for your long-term health.

 

In his 1975 article, Chinese Lessons For Modern Chiropractors, Dr. George Goodheart – known as “the father of Applied Kinesiology” — explained what he calls the “Antenna Effect.” Essentially, he discovered that by taping a small metal ball over an acupuncture point, you could achieve longer-term stimulation to that point in question. This discovery led to what are now known as AcuAids — small magnetic patches that are used by thousands of doctors across the world.

 

However, just like a small metal ball, any metal constantly applied to any given energy channel or point on your body can have the same stimulating effect. Over time, the continued stimulation can cause a subsequent decrease in function of important neuro-lymphatic reflex points located below your breasts.

 

In addition, the metal wire may act as an antenna attracting electromagnetic fields, which may also increase your risk of breast cancer. Fortunately, you can easily remove the piece of metal wire and replace it with a plastic rod of comparable size, which will provide the support but not simulate the antenna effect.

Wearing a Bra in General…

 

There are few solid studies on bra wearing and breast cancer, but one of the most compelling was completed by medical anthropologists Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer — authors of Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. The study of over 4,000 women found that women who do not wear bras have a much lower risk of breast cancer:

 

Their findings included:

 

Women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer

Women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day, but not to bed, had a 1 out of 7 risk

Women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 52 risk

Women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer

When comparing women who wore their bras 24 hours a day with those who did not wear bras at all, there was a 125-fold difference in risk. Based on the results of this study, the link between bras and breast cancer is about three times greater than the link between cigarette smoking and cancer.

 

Although this study did not control for other risk factors, which could have skewed their results, other studies have found similar compelling links. For example, a group of Japanese researchers found that wearing a girdle or bra can lower your levels of melatonin by 60 percent. The hormone melatonin is intimately involved with the regulation of your sleep cycles, and numerous studies have shown that melatonin has anti-cancer activities.

Setting the Record Straight About Mammograms

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I discussed breast cancer without addressing mammograms — but this isn’t because I want to remind you to get yours. On the contrary, I don’t recommend mammograms, despite what you may hear from other medical sources. There are a few major reasons for this:

 

There is no solid evidence that mammograms save lives. In fact, research demonstrates that adding an annual mammogram to a careful physical examination of the breasts does not improve breast cancer survival rates over getting the examination alone. This is ESPECIALLY true for women under 50 with no breast cancer risk factors as even conventional experts advise this.

A mammogram uses ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which in and of itself can contribute to the development of breast cancer. Mammograms expose your body to radiation that can be 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray, which we know poses a cancer risk. In fact, research in the journal Radiology, reported that annual mammography screening of 100,000 women from age 40-55, and biennial screening after that to age 74, would cause 86 radiation-induced cancers, including 11 fatalities and 136 life years lost.

Mammograms carry a first-time false positive rate of up to 6 percent. False positives can lead to expensive repeat screenings, exposing you to even more radiation, and may result in unnecessary invasive procedures including biopsies, unnecessary surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and devastating false diagnoses.

So why does the American Cancer Society advise women age 40 and older to have a screening mammogram every year, and continue to do so for as long as they are in good health, even despite updated guidelines set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which state that women in their 40s should NOT get routine mammograms for early detection of breast cancer?

 

ACS’ role in the promotion of mammography is far from altruistic, as they have numerous ties to the mammography industry itself:

 

Five radiologists have served as presidents of ACS

ACS commonly promotes the interests of mammogram machine and film manufacturers, including Siemens, DuPont, General Electric, Eastman Kodak and Piker

The close ties help explain why ACS commonly runs advertisements urging women to get mammograms, even going so far in one ad as to promise that early detection leads to a cure “nearly 100 percent of the time.” But mammograms do not prevent nor cure breast cancer any more than an x-ray of your arm prevents you from breaking it or helping a broken bone heal!

 

I do recommend breast cancer screening, however, just not mammography.

 

What Can you do to Prevent Breast Cancer?

Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women, and one in eight will develop it during her lifetime. Cancer rates are climbing uncontrollably, and costs are quickly becoming unsustainable, a panel of 37 experts recently reported in The Lancet Oncology.

 

Unfortunately, while the American Cancer Society widely encourages women to get mammograms, they do not do nearly enough to spread the word about the many ways women can help prevent breast cancer in the first place.

 

Along with the tips already mentioned above regarding deodorant and bras, a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, and an effective way to manage your emotional health are the cornerstones of just about any cancer prevention program, including breast cancer.

 

The following lifestyle strategies will also help to further lower your risk:

 

Radically reduce your sugar/fructose intake. Normalizing your insulin levels by avoiding sugar and fructose is one of the most powerful physical actions you can take to lower your risk of cancer. Unfortunately, very few oncologists appreciate or apply this knowledge today. The Cancer Centers of America is one of the few exceptions, where strict dietary measures are included in their cancer treatment program. Fructose is especially dangerous, as research shows it actually speeds up cancer growth.

Optimize your vitamin D level. Ideally it should be over 50 ng/ml, but levels from 60-80 ng/ml will radically reduce your cancer risk. Safe sun exposure is the most effective way to increase your levels, followed by safe tanning beds and then oral vitamin D3 supplementation as a last resort if no other option is available.

Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising using high-intensity burst-type activities like Peak Fitness. It’s important to lose excess weight because estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue, may trigger breast cancer.

Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as those from krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.

Avoid drinking alcohol, or limit your drinks to one a day for women.

Breastfeed exclusively for up to six months. Research shows this will reduce your breast cancer risk.

Watch out for excessive iron levels. This is actually very common once women stop menstruating. The extra iron actually works as a powerful oxidant, increasing free radicals and raising your risk of cancer. So if you are a post-menopausal woman or have breast cancer you will certainly want to have your Ferritin level drawn. Ferritin is the iron transport protein and should not be above 80. If it is elevated you can simply donate your blood to reduce it.

 

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Dr A Sullivan

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Alcohol and Breast Cancer

breastcancaer

Does Alcohol Raise the Risk for Breast Cancer?

 

It’s no secret that genetic, hormonal and environmental factors all seem to play a role in breast cancer. (1) When it comes to alcohol and breast cancer risk specifically, a May 2016 study provides even more insight suggesting that lifestyle factors — including how much alcohol a woman drinks — really matters.

Danish researchers published a study in the British Journal of Medicine providing even more detail of the alcohol and breast cancer risk connection. Analyzing women’s change in alcohol consumption over a five-year period, Danish researchers found that women who increased the amount of alcohol they drank over a five-year period faced a higher risk of breast cancer.

 

For instance, women who drank two more alcohol drinks a day over five years saw a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to women with stable alcohol intake. That same study found a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease in woman who drank more. However, the study authors noted there are other ways to lower heart disease risk without increasing your breast cancer risk from drinking alcohol. (2, 3)

 

Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk Findings

 

Research consistently shows that drinking alcoholic beverages increases a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol not only damages DNA in cells, but it also triggers higher levels of estrogen and other hormones linked to hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer. The estimated alcohol and breast cancer risk increases another 10 percent for each additional drink women regularly have each day, according to breastcancer.org.

 

Here are more important alcohol and breast cancer risk findings:

 

A large meta-analysis looking at the relationship between alcohol and breast cancer risk in women also found that women who drank about three alcoholic drinks a week experienced a moderate increase in breast cancer risk. (4)

A 2009 study found that drinking just three to four alcoholic beverages a week increases a women’s risk of breast cancer recurrence in women who’d been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. (5)

In March 2016, University of Houston researchers found that alcohol not only fuels estrogen that drives the growth of breast cancer cells, but it also diminishes the effects of popular cancer drug Tamoxifen, a widely-used estrogen-blocking drug used to treat many breast cancers. (6)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises women to drink no more than one drink a day. (7) If you drink less than this, don’t increase the amount of alcohol you drink.

Defining a “Drink”

 

When considering all of this research investigating alcohol and breast cancer risk, it’s important to understand what a “drink” actually means. For instance, drinking one dirty martini is very different than drinking a glass of beer or wine. Each may seem like a single drink, but a dirty martini typically contains about 6 ounces of vodka. That means your single martini, for instance, would actually be considered four drinks.

 

Researchers often use the following National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines to define what constitutes as one drink, which is about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol:

  • 12 ounces of beer or hard cider (3 to 7 percent alcohol)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof liquor

 

Keep in mind that a craft beer with a high alcohol percentage served in a common 16-ounce pint glass could actually be more on par with drinking two 12-ounce bottles of beer with a more standard alcohol percentage of 3 to 7 percent alcohol. (8) And when you’re sipping on something like red wine, be aware of how many ounces the glass is really holding.

 

Women who drink up to one drink a day and men who drink up to two drinks a day are considered moderate drinkers. Women having four or more drinks on any day or a total of eight or more drinks a week are considered high-risk, excessive drinkers. (For men, drinking more than five drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks a week is considered high-risk, excessive drinking.) (9)

 

Other Ways to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

 

With breast cancer cases expected to increase 50 percent by 2030, it’s important to not only consider alcohol and breast cancer risk, but take steps to lower your risk through other lifestyle improvements. (10) The important takeaway is that there are many things you can do lower your breast cancer risk in a meaningful way. Aside from lowering the levels of alcohol you drink, here are other ways to get started:

 

Fruits and veggies are loaded with cancer-fighting compounds — Interesting, a 2016 study found that when girls eat more fruit during adolescence (at least 2.9 servings a day), they enjoy a 25 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life compared to girls who eat the lowest levels of fruit during adolescence (less than a serving a day). (11, 12) Just be sure to choose organic when possible, since some fruits and veggies on the dirty dozen list harbor pesticides linked to cancer.

Eat organic, fresh foods as much as possible — Avoid canned foods and drinks. Most contain toxic BPA, also known as bisphenol A, a harmful chemical linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer. (13)

Avoid the heavy metal cadmium — It’s found in cigarettes smoke  and linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. (14, 15) Cadmium is a common food contaminant most often found in shellfish, liver and kidney meats.

Exercise — Strenuous exercise for 4+ hours a week can help lower your risk of breast cancer. Exercises can also help keep you out of the overweight/obese category, which is another risk factor for breast cancer in woman who have reached menopause. (16)

Final Thoughts on Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk

It’s clear that alcohol and breast cancer risk are related, but it may be unrealistic for some women to completely give up all alcoholic drinks for the rest of their lives. The science suggests that increasing the amount of alcohol you drink in midlife increases your risk. Other large research studies found that drinking three drinks or more a week moderately increases risk. In other words, you don’t have to be a binge drinker to experience a significant increase in risk.

 

Having a glass of red wine now and then can provide you with a healthy dose of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant shown to expand your lifespan and aid in weight loss. However, it’s important to remember that alcohol is a neurotoxin that also puts unnecessary stress on your liver. You can easily get those same benefits from blueberries and supplements, so don’t rely on even occasional red wine as your sole source of resveratrol.

 

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Loneliness and Breast Cancer Survival

loneliness

Loneliness May Sabotage Breast Cancer Survival

 

Loneliness may impede long-term breast cancer survival; a new study suggests.

 

In the years after treatment, women who don’t have strong social ties are more likely to have their cancer return or die from it than women with friends and a support network, the researchers found.

 

Reviewing data on nearly 10,000 breast cancer patients, the researchers linked isolation with a 40 percent higher risk of cancer recurrence compared to socially connected women.

 

These solitary women also had a 60 percent increased risk of dying from breast cancer and a 70 percent increased risk of dying from any cause, the study found.

 

The results weren’t unexpected, the researchers said.

 

“It is well established that women generally and those with breast cancer with greater social ties have a lower risk of death overall,” said lead researcher Candyce Kroenke. She’s with Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

 

People are social animals, said Kassandra Alcaraz, strategic director for health equity research at the American Cancer Society.

 

“We were not meant to be isolated, so the benefits we get from relationships with others and being part of a community are not surprising,” she said. “We know that social relationships are important to general health and well-being.”

 

Exactly why this is so isn’t entirely clear, Alcaraz said. “Having social ties may provide access to real assistance, like having someone to take you to the doctor or having someone to talk to about your concerns or connecting you with resources that can help you cope with the cancer,” she said.

 

Also, social well-being is correlated with physical well-being, Alcaraz added. Having connections to others helps reduce stress and depression and thus leads to better health outcomes, she said.

 

“We need to think of health in a more expansive way. Social influences can be just as important as other risk factors, such as obesity and smoking,” Alcaraz said.

 

Kroencke and her colleagues agreed, saying doctors should consider a woman’s social supports when making predictions for her recovery.

 

For this study, the researchers looked at a woman’s social connections in the two years after her breast cancer diagnosis to see how having friends, a spouse, relatives or community ties might affect her survival.

 

The report was published online Dec. 12 in the journal Cancer.

 

Data was collected on just over 9,000 women. Over an average follow-up of 11 years, more than 1,400 cancers returned. Also, more than 1,500 women died, nearly 1,000 from breast cancer, the researchers found.

 

The links between social connections and prognosis were strongest among women with earlier stage cancer, the researchers said.

 

Also, specific associations differed by age, race, ethnicity and country, Kroenke said.

 

For example, ties to relatives and friends predicted lower breast cancer deaths for nonwhite women. And marriage predicted lower breast cancer deaths only among older white women.

 

In addition, community ties predicted better outcomes in older white and Asian women.

 

“Our findings demonstrate the generally beneficial influence of women’s social ties on breast cancer outcomes, including recurrence and breast cancer death,” Kroenke said.

 

The results don’t mean that loners are doomed to an early death, nor do they show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between isolation and worse survival.

 

Still, it’s important for doctors and other health care workers to help patients connect with support groups and other programs so they won’t remain socially isolated, Alcaraz said.

 

“Social ties have positive health benefits, and social isolation is detrimental to health,” she said. “And it is not unique to breast cancer or to cancer for that matter.”

 

Please share with family and loved ones.

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Mammograms or Thermography?

thermography

Mammography vs. Thermography

 

 

Well, let’s start with mammograms. Again, by the time they see a lump on a mammogram, it has taken five to eight years to develop. And if a woman follows the 10-year protocol of getting a mammogram every year or every six months, she is getting as much radiation as a woman had at Hiroshima; the atomic bomb, if she stood a mile away from the epicenter. She is getting over 5 rads of radiation in a mammogram if she follows the traditional methods of mammography.

 

So mammograms cause a lot of problems – the compression, the radiation. Studies have shown that they can increase your risk of cancer. And the new study that came out in Canada, it was a 25-year study where they found that mammograms did not decrease breast mortality rate at all. In fact, they were just as effective as a self breast exam that women do.

 

So if we put mammograms aside and we look at the technology with thermography, which has been around for years and can detect physiological changes at a very early stage, wouldn’t you rather know that there is possibly some changes going on in your breast or in your abdomen five to eight years before you have a diagnosis? And with thermography, there is no pain, there is no compression, there is no radiation. It is just a beautiful tool to have in your pocket.

 

So it is not only less invasive but it works better, it detects earlier.

 

So why doesn’t every doctor that is trying to detect breast cancer switch from mammography to thermography? Why is there this hitch?

Well, that brings us to the multibillion dollar cancer industry and mammograms are part of that. When you look at the breast cancer awareness month, I mean, they are not teaching women about true prevention but they are running women to having more mammograms. And to change that around is going to take some time and some persuasion and some education. Which in the 10 years that I have used thermography, I have seen a tremendous growth in that industry. And again, it is awareness and education.

 

But at the heart of it, though, it sure appears to be financially driven.

 

Ask your doctor where the closest facility for thermography and skip the mammograms!  Please!

 

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Veronique Desaulniers

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A Tiny Does of This Can Protect Against Cancer, MS, and Depression

melatonin

A Tiny Dose of This Can Help Protect Against Cancer, MS, and Depression

 

How Melatonin May Benefit Depression, Autoimmune Disorders, and Cancer

 

The hormone melatonin plays many important roles in your health, from helping you sleep better to strengthening your immune system, slowing down brain aging, reducing migraine attacks, protecting bone mass, and preventing cancer.

 

Lack of sun exposure during the day combined with artificial lighting late into the night disrupts your biological clock and hence, your melatonin production, and this disruption can provoke a number of adverse health effects.

 

In fact, melatonin has been the subject of preclinical research on over 100 different disease applications, many of which go hand in hand with your need for sleep.

 

Melatonin for Sleep and Beyond

 

Your master biological clock resides in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of your brain (SCN), which is part of your hypothalamus. Based on signals of light and darkness, your SCN tells your pineal gland when it’s time to secrete melatonin, and when to turn it off.

 

In scientific studies, melatonin supplementation has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep, experience less restlessness, and prevent daytime fatigue.

 

Keep in mind that you may only need a very minimal dose. I recommend taking only 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg to start, and adjusting upward from there. Taking higher doses, such as 3 mg, can sometimes make you more wakeful instead of sleepier, so start low and adjust your dose as needed.

 

Melatonin has also been found to reduce the effects of jet lag when traveling across multiple time zones.1 And children suffering with eczema, a condition that oftentimes prevents good sleep, may also get more shut-eye with melatonin supplementation,2 according to recent research.

 

Interestingly, melatonin also helped dampen the severity of the eczema, hinting at its anti-inflammatory effects. However, the benefits of melatonin go far beyond sleep. Three specific areas I’ll address in this article are its role in depression, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

 

Normalizing Your Circadian System Helps Alleviate Depressive Symptoms

 

Your melatonin level inversely rises and falls with light and darkness, and both your physical and mental health is intricately tied to this rhythm of light and dark. When it’s dark, your melatonin levels increase, which is why you may feel tired when the sun starts to set.

 

Conversely, when you’re exposed to bright artificial lighting at night, including blue light emitted from TVs and electronic screens, you may have trouble falling asleep due to suppressed melatonin levels.

 

Light exposure when you wake up at night can also be problematic as I explain in my video above. However you don’t have to stumble around as red and orange wavelengths will not suppress melatonin production.

 

You can use a red light to guide you to the bathroom. If you have a clock in your bedroom make sure it has a red LED display. Blue would be the worst as it is the one that shuts down melatonin most effectively.

 

Winter Blues SAD

 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, also called “the winter blues”) is associated with lack of sun exposure, and scientists generally recommend full-spectrum light therapy over SSRIs like Prozac or Zoloft for this condition.

 

Interestingly, recent research suggests light therapy may be preferable even for major depression, outperforming Prozac in those with moderate to severe depression. One of the reasons it works so well likely has to do with the fact that bright light helps reset your biological clock, or circadian rhythm.

 

Melatonin supplementation can help do this to a certain extent as well, but not as effectively as exposure to bright light during daytime. Light may also work in a way similar to antidepressants by regulating neurotransmitter function.

 

Light Therapy — More Effective Than Prozac

 

The study3,4,5,6,7 in question set out to compare the effectiveness of light therapy alone and in conjunction with the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac).

 

The eight-week long trial included 122 adults between the ages of 19 and 60, who were diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. The participants were divided into four groups, receiving:

 

Light therapy (30 minutes per day upon waking using a 10,000 lux Carex brand day-light device, classic model) plus a placebo pill

Prozac (20 mg/day) plus a deactivated ion generator serving as a placebo light device

Light therapy plus Prozac

Placebo light device plus placebo pill (control group)

In conclusion, the study found that the combination of light therapy and Prozac was the most effective — but light therapy-only came in close second, followed by placebo.

 

That’s right, the drug treatment was the least effective of all, and LESS effective than placebo! At the end of the study, remission was achieved by:

 

Just over 19 percent in the Prozac only group

30 percent in the placebo group

Nearly 44 percent in the light therapy only group

Nearly 59 percent in the active combination group

How Melatonin May Aid in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that, like SAD, has been linked to vitamin D deficiency from lack of sun exposure. Interestingly, recent research suggests that a drop in autumn and winter relapses may be linked to peak melatonin levels, which occurs during these darker months.

 

Conversely, spikes in relapses occurring during spring and summer — which tend to be less common but do occur — may be related to decreased melatonin levels. The research,8 led by neuroscientist Mauricio Farez at the Dr. Raúl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research, looked at 139 MS patients living in Buenos Aires.

 

Thirty-two percent of them experienced a reduction in relapses during fall and winter, compared to spring and summer. As reported by Scientific American:9

 

“Past research has shown that melatonin can have a protective effect against MS and that shift work, which disturbs melatonin production, can increase the risk of developing the disease. According to the authors, this research is one of the first to bring together epidemiological evidence with results from both human cells and animal models …

 

[And it] may help to resolve a ‘seasonal paradox’ — MS flare-ups should decrease during warmer, brighter months when people receive more exposure to sunlight and thus produce more vitamin D, which also has anti-inflammatory properties. But some studies, including this one, show that relapses increase in the spring and summer pointing to the possibility that other environmental factors, such as melatonin levels, are involved.”

 

To test their hypothesis, mice with autoimmune encephalomyelitis (the animal model of MS) received daily injections of melatonin. As a result, clinical symptoms were reduced, and harmful T cells, which are pro-inflammatory, were reduced, whereas regulatory T cells were increased. Similar effects were shown in petri dish experiments. As noted in the featured article:

 

“Melatonin regulates pathways central to the immune response, so these results may pertain to other autoimmune diseases, particularly where seasonal flare-ups occur, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis …”

 

Melatonin’s Role in Fighting Cancer

 

Cancer is another area where melatonin plays a major role. The evidence suggests it may be an important adjunct to cancer treatment,10 as it also helps protect against the toxic effects of radiation therapy. Cells throughout your body — even cancer cells — have melatonin receptors, and melatonin is in and of itself cytotoxic, meaning can induce tumor cell death (apoptosis). It also:11

 

Boosts production of immune-optimizing substances such as interleukin-2, which helps identify and attack mutated cells that lead to malignant cancer

Inhibits development of new tumor blood vessels (tumor angiogenesis), which slows the spread of the cancer

Retards cancer progression by activating the cytokine system, which helps inhibit tumor growth, and by stimulating the cytotoxic activity of macrophages and monocytes

By its antioxidant action it also limits oxidative damage to DNA

Inhibits tumor growth by counteracting estrogen. (At night, when melatonin production peaks, cell division slows. And when melatonin latches onto a breast cancer cell, it has been found to counteract estrogen’s tendency to stimulate cell growth)

Melatonin has a calming effect on other reproductive hormones besides estrogen as well, which may explain why it seems to protect most effectively against sex hormone-driven cancers, including ovarian, endometrial, prostate, testicular and breast cancers12 — the latter of which has received the greatest amount of scientific attention. Some of the studies on melatonin for breast cancer include the following:

 

The journal Epidemiology13 reported increased breast cancer risk among women who work predominantly night shifts

Women who live in neighborhoods with large amounts of nighttime illumination are more likely to get breast cancer than those who live in areas where nocturnal darkness prevails, according to an Israeli study14

From participants in the Nurses’ Health Study,15 it was found that nurses who work nights had 36 percent higher rates of breast cancer

Blind women, whose eyes cannot detect light and therefore have robust production of melatonin, have lower-than-average breast cancer rates16

When the body of epidemiological studies are considered in their totality, women who work night shift are found to have breast cancer rates 60 percent above normal, even when other factors, such as differences in diet, are accounted for17

Melatonin May Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients

 

Other cancers may also benefit. In 2004, the Life Extension Foundation collaborated with Cancer Treatment Centers of America on the first clinical trial evaluating melatonin’s effect in patients with lung cancer.

 

The results,18 which were published in conjunction with the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting, found a tumor response in just over 29 percent of those receiving melatonin at night, compared to just under 8 percent of those receiving it in the morning, and 10.5 percent of placebo recipients. As reported by Life Extension Magazine:19

 

“European clinical studies indicate that in patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, five-year survival and overall tumor regression rates were higher in patients concomitantly treated with melatonin than in those treated with chemotherapy alone. While no patient treated with chemotherapy survived after two years, five-year survival was achieved in 3 of 49 patients treated with chemotherapy and melatonin.

 

The researchers hope that similarly promising results could eventually convince mainstream medical practitioners to administer melatonin in combination with standard cancer treatment regimens to patients in earlier stages of cancer treatment.”

 

The Importance of Light and Dark for the Synchronization of Your Body Clocks

 

Melatonin production is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light, which is why your levels should be highest just prior to bedtime. This perfectly orchestrated system allows you to fall asleep when the sun sets and awaken refreshed with the sunrise, while also providing potential anti-aging and disease-fighting benefits.

 

If you’re having trouble sleeping, which is a signal that your melatonin production is off, I suggest making sure you’re sleeping in total darkness and to turn lights down at least an hour or so before bedtime. Also, avoid watching TV and using computers and other electronic gadgets at least an hour prior to bed.

 

All of these devices emit blue light, which will decrease your melatonin if you work past dark, so ideally you’d want to turn these items off once the sun goes down. If you have to use these devices you can wear yellow glasses that filter the blue wavelengths out and/or use free software like f.lux.

 

To light rooms at night, use “low blue” light bulbs that emit an amber light instead of the blue that suppresses melatonin production. An equally important factor is the quality of light you’re exposed to during the day. Without sufficient sunlight during the day, your circadian clock may fall out of sync.

 

Most incandescent and fluorescent lights emit very poor-quality light. What your body needs for optimal functioning is the full-spectrum light you get outdoors, but most of us do not spend much time outside to take advantage of this healthy light.

 

Using full-spectrum light bulbs in your home and office can help ameliorate this lack of high-quality sunlight during the day, but cannot fully replace it. So do make an effort to go outside for at least 30 to 60 minutes each day during the brightest portion of the day, i.e. right around noon. This will help “set” your circadian clock and help you sleep better.

 

For Optimal Health, Make Sure You Sleep Well

 

Remember, when your circadian rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin, which means it has less ability to fight cancer, and less protection against free radicals that may accelerate aging and disease. So if you’re having even slight trouble sleeping, I suggest you review my “33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep” for more guidance on how to improve your sleep-wake cycle.

 

If you’ve made the necessary changes to your sleep routine and find you’re still having trouble sleeping, a high-quality melatonin supplement may be helpful.

 

The amount of melatonin you create and release every night varies depending on your age. Children usually have much higher levels of melatonin than adults, and as you grow older your levels typically continue to decrease. This is why some older adults may benefit from extra melatonin.

 

The same goes for those who perform night shift work, travel often and experience jet lag, or otherwise suffer from occasional sleeplessness due to stress or other reasons. Start with a dose of about 0.25 to 0.5 mg, and increase it as necessary from there. If you start feeling more alert, you’ve likely taken too much and need to lower your dose.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived : JM

312-972-WELL

 

Does Alcohol Raise the Risk for Breast Cancer?

breastcancaer

Does Alcohol Raise the Risk for Breast Cancer?

 

It’s no secret that genetic, hormonal and environmental factors all seem to play a role in breast cancer. (1) When it comes to alcohol and breast cancer risk specifically, a May 2016 study provides even more insight suggesting that lifestyle factors — including how much alcohol a woman drinks — really matters.

Danish researchers published a study in the British Journal of Medicine providing even more detail of the alcohol and breast cancer risk connection. Analyzing women’s change in alcohol consumption over a five-year period, Danish researchers found that women who increased the amount of alcohol they drank over a five-year period faced a higher risk of breast cancer.

 

For instance, women who drank two more alcohol drinks a day over five years saw a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to women with stable alcohol intake. That same study found a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease in woman who drank more. However, the study authors noted there are other ways to lower heart disease risk without increasing your breast cancer risk from drinking alcohol. (2, 3)

 

Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk Findings

 

Research consistently shows that drinking alcoholic beverages increases a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol not only damages DNA in cells, but it also triggers higher levels of estrogen and other hormones linked to hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer. The estimated alcohol and breast cancer risk increases another 10 percent for each additional drink women regularly have each day, according to breastcancer.org.

 

Here are more important alcohol and breast cancer risk findings:

 

A large meta-analysis looking at the relationship between alcohol and breast cancer risk in women also found that women who drank about three alcoholic drinks a week experienced a moderate increase in breast cancer risk. (4)

A 2009 study found that drinking just three to four alcoholic beverages a week increases a women’s risk of breast cancer recurrence in women who’d been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. (5)

In March 2016, University of Houston researchers found that alcohol not only fuels estrogen that drives the growth of breast cancer cells, but it also diminishes the effects of popular cancer drug Tamoxifen, a widely-used estrogen-blocking drug used to treat many breast cancers. (6)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises women to drink no more than one drink a day. (7) If you drink less than this, don’t increase the amount of alcohol you drink.

Defining a “Drink”

 

When considering all of this research investigating alcohol and breast cancer risk, it’s important to understand what a “drink” actually means. For instance, drinking one dirty martini is very different than drinking a glass of beer or wine. Each may seem like a single drink, but a dirty martini typically contains about 6 ounces of vodka. That means your single martini, for instance, would actually be considered four drinks.

 

Researchers often use the following National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines to define what constitutes as one drink, which is about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol:

  • 12 ounces of beer or hard cider (3 to 7 percent alcohol)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof liquor

 

Keep in mind that a craft beer with a high alcohol percentage served in a common 16-ounce pint glass could actually be more on par with drinking two 12-ounce bottles of beer with a more standard alcohol percentage of 3 to 7 percent alcohol. (8) And when you’re sipping on something like red wine, be aware of how many ounces the glass is really holding.

 

Women who drink up to one drink a day and men who drink up to two drinks a day are considered moderate drinkers. Women having four or more drinks on any day or a total of eight or more drinks a week are considered high-risk, excessive drinkers. (For men, drinking more than five drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks a week is considered high-risk, excessive drinking.) (9)

 

Other Ways to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

 

With breast cancer cases expected to increase 50 percent by 2030, it’s important to not only consider alcohol and breast cancer risk, but take steps to lower your risk through other lifestyle improvements. (10) The important takeaway is that there are many things you can do lower your breast cancer risk in a meaningful way. Aside from lowering the levels of alcohol you drink, here are other ways to get started:

 

Fruits and veggies are loaded with cancer-fighting compounds — Interesting, a 2016 study found that when girls eat more fruit during adolescence (at least 2.9 servings a day), they enjoy a 25 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life compared to girls who eat the lowest levels of fruit during adolescence (less than a serving a day). (11, 12) Just be sure to choose organic when possible, since some fruits and veggies on the dirty dozen list harbor pesticides linked to cancer.

Eat organic, fresh foods as much as possible — Avoid canned foods and drinks. Most contain toxic BPA, also known as bisphenol A, a harmful chemical linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer. (13)

Avoid the heavy metal cadmium — It’s found in cigarettes smoke  and linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. (14, 15) Cadmium is a common food contaminant most often found in shellfish, liver and kidney meats.

Exercise — Strenuous exercise for 4+ hours a week can help lower your risk of breast cancer. Exercises can also help keep you out of the overweight/obese category, which is another risk factor for breast cancer in woman who have reached menopause. (16)

Final Thoughts on Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk

It’s clear that alcohol and breast cancer risk are related, but it may be unrealistic for some women to completely give up all alcoholic drinks for the rest of their lives. The science suggests that increasing the amount of alcohol you drink in midlife increases your risk. Other large research studies found that drinking three drinks or more a week moderately increases risk. In other words, you don’t have to be a binge drinker to experience a significant increase in risk.

 

Having a glass of red wine now and then can provide you with a healthy dose of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant shown to expand your lifespan and aid in weight loss. However, it’s important to remember that alcohol is a neurotoxin that also puts unnecessary stress on your liver. You can easily get those same benefits from blueberries and supplements, so don’t rely on even occasional red wine as your sole source of resveratrol.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived: P. Carrothers – JA

312-972-WELL

 

What Alcohol Does To Your Body

womandrinnking

 

I wish I had learned the following information years ago, or had at least been more mindful of it. While I do believe it is common knowledge that alcohol is not particularly good for us, I don’t believe very many of us know just how bad it is. I myself was shocked to learn that it is a known carcinogen, and was further surprised to discover that regular alcohol consumption actually inhibits the body’s natural ability to produce crucial vitamins.

 

Considering alcohol is a depressant, this information makes clear how negatively it can impact both mental and physical health, often leading to a vicious cycle of self medication. Let’s take a look at some of the long term negative effects of alcohol on the body.

 

 

Known Carcinogen

 

Many studies clearly correlate alcohol consumption and cancer development, linking moderate to regular alcohol consumption to the following types of cancer: Head and neck cancer, Esophageal Cancer, Liver Cancer, Breast Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, and more.

 

“Based on extensive reviews of research studies, there is a strong scientific consensus of an association between alcohol drinking and several types of cancer.” National Cancer Institute

 

 

Decreased Vitamin B12 Production

 

Studies have shown that drinking alcohol in excess compromises your vitamin B12 levels; if you are already or become deficient in this crucial vitamin, your health may suffer greatly. Recent studies have also concluded that even regular, moderate use of alcohol can impact your B12 levels.

 

 

Decreased Vitamin D & Calcium Absorption

 

Alcohol interferes with the pancreas and its ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D. Alcohol also affects the liver, which is important for activating vitamin D, necessary for proper calcium absorption. This cascade of effects can lead to difficulties with bone regeneration.

Liver Damage (Cirrhosis)

 

Liver cirrhosis occurs when the liver becomes scarred, and while a number of things can cause this, a common cause of this is alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis of the liver can be very serious, even fatal, and often the only way to reverse it is through surgery.

 

 

Depressant

 

As appealing and even empowering as the feeling of lowered inhibitions and increased confidence can be, alcohol is a depressant which lowers serotonin levels in the brain. Many people turn to alcohol to alleviate depression, but many actually develop it because of alcohol, hence why this can become a very vicious cycle for some people.

 

 

 

Memory Loss

 

Consuming alcohol slows down processes in the brain, often resulting in memory loss.  Excessive drinking, moreover, can result in complete “black-outs,” causing you to forget where you were, what you did, and even who you did it with. Over time, this can make it difficult to remember events that happen even while sober.

 

What Happens To The Body Right Away And Especially The Next Day?

 

Alcohol irritates the stomach and intestines, which causes an inflamed stomach lining and delayed stomach emptying.

 

You are becoming dehydrated; the consumption of 50 g of alcohol in 250 milliliters (ml) of water (i.e. approximately 4 drinks) causes the elimination of 600 to 1,000 ml (or up to 1 quart) of water over several hours.

 

Alcohol inhibits glutamate production; glutamate is a stimulant whose job is to keep us awake. However, when our alcohol blood-levels reach zero (i.e., hangover time), our body reacts by overproducing this stimulant, which results in broken sleeps

 

According to this research, a possible explanation for alcohol induced hangovers is that alcohol effects the neurotransmitters, histamine, serotonin and prostaglandins.

How Much Is Too Much?

 

According to the Canadian Centre For Addiction and Mental Health, women should drink no more than 10 drinks per week with no more than 2 drinks a day. Men should drink no more than 15 drinks a week, with no more than 3 on one day. And you are not supposed to drink daily. I don’t know about you, but on a day that I go out and plan to drink it’s very rare that I would consume only 2 drinks. For instance, in the U.S. one out of ever six adults binge drinks 4 times a month with an average of 8 drinks per binge.

Some Personal Thoughts On The Matter

 

Learning how detrimental alcohol truly is for our health really made the “truth seeker” in me wonder why it is promoted so heavily in mainstream media. It’s not often you see a TV show or a movie where the characters aren’t regularly consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and both these characters or those in alcohol advertisements are portrayed, to varying degrees, as sexy, cool, spontaneous, and fun. In fact the promotion of alcohol in mainstream commercialism was reported to have spent 8 billion on advertising between 2002-2009. While knowledge of alcohol’s dangers is nowhere near as common as that of, say, smoking, that still leaves the question, why is it kept in the dark? A lot of information is coming forward these days about how sugar is the tobacco of the 21st century and so on, but it seems the truth about alcohol’s dangers are largely being ignored.

 

Even many popular alternative health blogs don’t seem to pay too much attention to the idea. Is this because so many people enjoy alcohol and the way it makes them feel and would rather turn a blind eye? Or is there a vested interest in keeping this information quiet? Not to be a total Negative Nancy, but this all reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984 and how the deprived characters of the story were just given alcohol as a way to keep them happy and help them escape their otherwise miserable existence.

 

Please don’t get me wrong — I enjoy alcohol as much as the next person, or maybe even more, as it can be a great way to let loose, have fun, or even just relax, but this information has really got me thinking lately. Especially after abstaining from alcohol for the month of February, realizing how much better I felt on a day-to-day basis and seeing how much more I was able to accomplish, I think this is something we could all benefit from examining more closely.

 

What Do You Think?

 

If you are someone who enjoys the occasional glass of wine or a couple of beers every now and then, you can pretty much disregard this article. It is likely that if you are living an otherwise healthy lifestyle, these negative effects won’t have much of an impact on you. But if you are someone who drinks regularly, or who uses alcohol as an escape, this information is really worth taking into consideration. Why not take a break from alcohol and see if your mood improves? If you find you are using alcohol as a means to deal with stress, consider an alternative, like going for a run or walk, spending a few minutes in the sauna, or even meditating. Try doing something positive to deal with the stress rather than escaping it with alcohol.

Some Benefits Of Cutting Back Or Quitting Alcohol

 

Increased mood

More savings

Less or no hangovers

More time to get things done

Not having regrets from something stupid you may have done

Better memory

Healthier lifestyle

 

Please share to help someone else out.  Call us if you need help looking into what supplement you will need, and always calculate the other medications and supplements you are on.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972- WELL

Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don’t wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

Remember: Mushrooms are one of the few foods that prevent Breast Cancer.

Tweek Recipe for you own personal needs.

 

Health and Wellness Associates
Archived Article
I. Garten
312-72-WELL

wildmushroomsoup

Breast Cancer and Iodiine

iodine

Breast Cancer and Iodine

One out of seven women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Many studies have found a strong association between thyroid abnormalities caused by lack of iodine and breast cancer. A mere 30 years ago, iodine consumption was much higher and only one in twenty women developed breast cancer. In Japan, the breast cancer rates are well below the US rates. This is because they consume lots of seafood, kelp, and other iodine-rich foods as a regular part of the diet. The average intake in Japan is about 12 mg (12,000 mcg) a day. Now look at Americans who get about 50 times less iodine than Japenese in their diets. The only iodine comsumption is iodized salt which many people have been convinced is bad for you. It is NOT! Salt at fast food restaurants is bad for you. If you are not getting at least 12mg of iodine/iodide a day, you are falling behind. If you are deficient in iodine (90% or more of Americans are), it will take more than 12mg a day for a few months to catch up.

Health and Wellness Associates

312-972-WELL

What Happens to Your Body When You Smoke

cigarettersmoking

What Happens to Your Body When You Smoke

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 18 out of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (17.8 percent) smoke cigarettes today. This means an estimated 42.1 million adults in the United States are cigarette smokers. Even more stunning; on average, smoking causes 480,000 deaths per year in the country, which is roughly 1,300 deaths per day.1 It is expected that eight million people will die in 2030 if the current smoking rate continues.

Background of Cigarette Smoking

Smoking is said to stimulate pleasing and enjoyable emotions, and smokers claim that it helps boost their mood, alleviates minor depression and small fits of anger, improves concentration and short-term memory, and can also provide a modest sense of well-being. This is because cigarettes contain the addictive substance nicotine that stimulates dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for the “pleasurable sensations.”

However, the more you smoke, the more your nerve cells become immune to the pleasure brought on by smoking. As a result, smokers tend to increase their intake of nicotine to get that desirable feeling from smoking.2

Despite the “pleasure” that one gets from puffing a cigarette, remember this: smoking comes with devastating health effects.

If you think smoking an e-cig makes a difference, it doesn’t. Researchers actually found that a brand of e-cigarette contains more than 10 times the level of carcinogen contained in a regular cigarette. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both harmful toxins, were also found in the vapor produced by several types of e-cigarettes.

Remember while smoking makes you feel good for a period of time, it slowly kills your body, and is the LEADING preventable cause of death in the US.3

What Are the Side Effects of Smoking Cigarettes?

Smoking harms your body and may cause permanent damage to your health. If you’re still not convinced about its dangers, take a look at some of smoking’s side effects.

Short-Term Effects

Smokers tend to have smelly clothes and hair, bad breath, and yellow or brown teeth stains. Your physical appearance can also suffer as smoking can lead to premature wrinkles, gum and tooth loss, and sudden weight change. Stomach ulcers and weakened immune system are also possible smoking side effects you might experience.4

For young people, there is a high probability that they will continue smoking into adulthood. As a result, it will impair their lung function and growth. Teens who smoke are also 22 times more likely to use cocaine.

According to a new Australian study, female smokers may experience worse menstrual cramps than those who don’t. It is likely to happen as the amount of oxygen that travels to the uterus decreases when you smoke. Researchers say that women who started to smoke at the tender age of 13 have a 59 percent risk of having painful menstruation, while those who started to smoke at age 14 or 15 have 50 percent risk of experiencing it.5

Long-Term Effects

Many people don’t begin to feel the severe side effects of smoking until years later. Once you begin to feel the symptoms, you know damage has already been done. Some damaging side effects of smoking cigarettes include:

  • Cardiovascular health problems. Smoking poses a great danger to your heart and blood vessels. It damages the structure of your heart and the way your blood vessels work.6 Smoking increases your risk of having a heart disease by two to four times, as it causes the blood vessels in your heart to thicken and grow thinner. It makes your heart beat faster, your blood pressure rise, and causes your blood to clot. When a clot blocks the blood flow to your heart, it cannot get enough oxygen, which damages a part of your heart’s muscle or even kills it.

People who smoke have a higher risk of atherosclerosis, a disease where the plaque liquids build in the arteries. As time progresses, it will cause your arteries to harden and narrow, which will limit the flow of the oxygen-filled blood to other parts of your body.

Smoking may also lead to coronary heart disease (CHD) once the plaque liquids build up in the coronary arteries. It can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, or death.

Another side effect of smoking cigarettes is Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.), which happens when plaque liquids build up to the blood vessels that deliver blood to the head, organs, and limbs. Smokers who have diabetes and take birth control pills are at greater risk of having serious ailments to the heart and blood vessels. 7

  • Increased risk of stroke. Smokers have a two to four times increased risk of having a stroke than non-smokers. It happens when a clot blocks the blood from your brain or when an artery around or in your brain explodes.8
  • Respiratory problems. Our lungs are equipped with a layer of internal mucus that serves as a protective shield for foreign materials that we inhale, by wiping off these contaminants with small hairs called cilia. But with smokers, cilia cannot function properly as these tiny hairs work rather slowly. As a result, you cannot cough, sneeze, or swallow to get these toxins out of your body.9

Smoking can trigger or make an asthma attack worse.10 It may also cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs eventually lose their elasticity and start to worsen. Chronic bronchitis happens when there is a swelling in the linings of your lungs and it constrains your breathing.11

  • Pregnancy complications. Pregnant women who smoke have a higher risk of preterm (early) delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth. They may encounter Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), ectopic pregnancy, and orofacial clefts for the newborns. Women also have a great tendency of having weaker bones after menopause.12
  • Reproductive health function. Men who smoke may encounter erectile dysfunction, poor sperm quality, and sperm defects. For women, smoking may cause reduced fertility.13
  • Cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals, some of which can cause cancer. These include formaldehyde, benzene, polonium 210, and vinyl chloride.14 Even worse, smoking can cause various kinds of cancers anywhere in your body, not just in your lungs, such as: 15
Bladder Blood (acute myeloid leukemia) Cervix
Colon and rectum (colorectal) Esophagus Kidney and ureter
Larynx Liver Oropharynx
Pancreas Stomach Trachea, bronchus, and lung

Radioactive Chemical Found in Fertilizers Leads to Lung Cancer

Did you know that your body also accumulates harmful radioactive chemicals from cigarettes? These dangerous elements come from the pesticides used on tobacco fields. While it is true that smoking cigarettes can cause cancer, there is a more specific substance that is the root cause of cancer among smokers. Tobacco fields typically use calcium phosphate fertilizers, which contain polonium-210. When polonium-210 decays, it releases alpha particles that can damage human cells they come into contact with.

Research suggests that main lung damage comes from the radiation emitted by these fertilizers.16,17,18 It also showed that polonium, specifically, causes cancer in laboratory animals.19 Moreover, according to a study in 200920 the radiation that you get from smoking 1 ½ cigarette packs is tantamount to 300 chest x-ray films per year.

A 2011 report from Nicotine and Tobacco Research21 also revealed there are internal documents stating that the tobacco industry have recognized the danger brought by these radioactive chemicals. According to these papers, acid wash was found to be an effective solution in removing polonium-210 from the tobacco leaves, but the industry avoided using it as it would lessen the pleasurable effect of nicotine to smokers.

The tobacco industry will certainly not be your number one motivator in stopping you from smoking, even if they know that this may lead to your death. It is now your decision to throw away your smoking habit for good and choose a healthier lifestyle, which can add more years to your life.

What Happens When a Smoker Quits

The process of quitting requires determination and patience as it will affect you both physically and mentally, so be prepared for its withdrawal period. But nonetheless, it will greatly benefit in many ways even just minutes after quitting.

Tips on How to Quit Smoking

People who have been addicted to smoking for a long time still have hope in turning over a new leaf. I suggest that you practice these prevention techniques to help you quit smoking:22

  • Choose a Quit Day. Pick a day that is not stressful for you so that you can prepare yourself. It can be your birthday, your anniversary, or even just the first day of the month.
  • Don’t Quit Alone. Telling someone about your decision to quit can give an enormous support when you feel alone in your battle to quit.
  • Know Your Nicotine Replacement Options. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can be a great help in quitting smoking as it can help you overcome the withdrawal symptoms. It is considered safe for all smokers except for pregnant women and people with heart disease.23

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five forms of nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum, nasal spray, inhalers, and lozenges) for those who are attempting to quit. But it is still best to ask a medical professional about which form of NRT is most suitable for you.24

  • Get Smart About Your Smoking. Keeping a journal can help you track the situations that helped you up or pushed you down in your attempt to quit smoking, so you can determine how you can deal with them without reaching for a cigarette.
  • Identify Your Triggers. Make a list of all the things that you have done in the past that involves smoking. Before your quit day, prepare yourself on how you will deal with these things.
  • Change the What, Where, When and How You Smoke. Altering you habits – the time and places where you used to smoke – can help you during your attempt to quit.
  • Spring Clean. Wash and throw away everything that reminds you of smoking.
  • Get Support. It is great if you can get help from communities of former smokers or a clinic that specializes in helping those who want quit.
  • Quit Day and Beyond. You have to adjust your behavior to identify what triggers you to smoke.
  • If You’re Going to Do It, Do It! Commitment is key to be successful in your attempt to quit. It will certainly be hard but it is worth it.

Quitting smoking may be hard, but I advise you to do it as early as now. I really believe that having a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle will not only benefit you but your family as well.

Health and Wellness Associates

312-972-WELL

Archived Article

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