Another great post from our research assistant, Kate Sarton, detailing last week's visit with Ted Talbot and Ray Richardson on WLOB. Thanks, Kate...
Our October 19th segment with Ray Richardson and Ted Talbot on WLOB addressed a topic that touches us all...one that has rallied more fundraising, support, and awareness of any other disease: breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and everywhere we turn, we see pink. From yogurt lids, stickers, pink hair streaks and shoe laces, to pink guns and hard lemonade, "pink" has invaded our vision. We can't help but ponder why breast cancer has inspired more of our attention than any other prevalent cancer (such as lung cancer). Breasts are (for many, and definitely initially before formula arrived on the scene) our first source of nutrition and connection to our mothers outside of the womb. Nude paintings and sculpture of the female form have existed parallel to artistic exploration. Breasts are beautiful. And, everyone is affected by breast cancer: our grandmothers, mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. Even men can get breast cancer. According to the Susan G Komen organization, it is estimated that this year in the US, there will be 207,090 new diagnosed cases of breast cancer (1,970 in men), with an estimated 39,840 deaths (390 in men).
Here is a bit more information on breast cancer, as compiled from the Susan G Komen website:
Since the 1940's, the incidence of breast cancer has increased. Mortality rates have decreased but only slightly. The decrease is also from improved screening methods, which allow the cancer to be detected sooner. In comparison to other cancers, breast cancer is (usually) slower growing. But, this can also make it more difficult to detect until it has existed for many years. The body has a regulation system (apoptosis) in which new cells grow in relation to the degeneration of old cells. Cancer is when the regulators do not work right and growth exceeds death. As the growth continues, a mass of tissue forms, known as a tumor. The tumor actually promotes the growth of new blood vessels so that it can survive off of nutrients and oxygen. Breast cancer, as the name denotes, occurs in the breast. The breast is made up of lobules and ducts, that have the appearance of bunches of grapes. The lobules are the "grapes" that produce milk, while the ducts are canals that carry the milk to the nipple. 85% of breast cancer begins in the mammary ducts while only 15% begins in the lobules. There are two types of breast cancer. Invasive, is when the abnormal cancer cells "break out" from the breast tissue and spread via the blood and lymph system to other areas of the body. This is also known as metastasis. The other type of cancer is Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. Although the potential still exists for this cancer to spread, it is much lower and is considered "non-invasive" or "in-place".
Most breast cancer occurs in women over 50. Occasionally younger women are diagnosed. In these cases the women usually have either the BRCA 1 or 2 gene, which are mutations that greatly increase risk. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in most ethinicities of women. Although statistics show a slight difference in risk between ethnicities (in the US, the highest is Caucasian women and the lowest is Native American/Alaskan women), it is small, and as more cultures adopt the "US lifestyle" the difference decreases. One of the more surprising facts, is that lesbian women have a higher risk of breast cancer. This is not due to their sexual orientation, but rather to lifestyle patterns. For example, many lesbian women never have children or wait to have children later on in life. This increases their risk. In addition, due to the fact that many lesbian women are not having children, they do not go to the gynecologist for yearly check-ups as often. In response, cancer is caught later on, which can be harder to treat.
So, what can you do?? One of the big pieces in all of this is catching abnormalities as soon as possible. This means knowing the warning signs and increasing your "breast awareness". Below is a list of warning signs:
- breast tissue is naturally lumpy (like oatmeal), but if a new lump appears or a lump changes, especially if it is different from the rest of the breast or different from the other breast, get it checked.
- nipple discharge can also be a natural happening but, if a bloody or clear discharge appears, especially if it is just in one nipple, get it checked.
- if there is swelling, warmth, redness, darkening, or a change in the size/shape of a breast, get it checked.
- if the skin is dimpling/puckering, or the nipple is itchy, scaly, sore, or has a rash, get it checked.
- if there is pain in one spot that doesn't go away, get it checked.
The next piece is to increase your breast awareness.
- Know your risk! This is based off of your health history (is it in your genes?) and your personal history (lifestyle choices).
- Get screened! In 2009 the US preventative task services decided that only women over 50 need to get a mammogram every 2 years. However, many professional organizations (including the American College of OBGYN, American Medical Association, and American Cancer Association) do not agree with this new guideline. They believe that much of the progress of detecting breast cancer has occurred because women are being screened more frequently and encouraged to do self-breast exams monthly. These associations believe that women 20 and up should get a full exam (breast exam/pap smears/etc) every 3 years and women 40 and up should get yearly mammograms and exams.
- Know what is normal for you! Do self-breast exams monthly. Breast tissue changes with age, but if you are used to how your breasts feel, you will notice if anything abnormal appears. In addition, for the younger women who are at greater risk due to genetic make-up, the earlier you get to "know" your breast tissue with self-exams the more knowledgable you are.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices! Maintain healthy weight, exercise, and decrease alcohol intake.
There is a lot more support for complimentary and integrative therapies for treatment options. Many M.D.'s do not suggest treating cancer purely with holistic methods, but do acknowledge that they help increase quality of life and relieve symptoms (both from the disease and treatments) when used in addition to standard treatments. A few therapies to consider are: Acupuncture and Acupressure, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Massage, Meditation or Prayer, Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Reiki. According to NBCAM, there has even been new research in which black pepper and tumeric spices were applied to cells. The stem cells generating the cancer decreased while the normal cells remained the same!
We have a long way to go in getting cancer under control. The important things in the meantime are to support loved ones, and to support yourself!
One of the most important ways to support yourself is to fuel up with delicious, wholesome foods.
This week's Basket O' Fun contained the following delish items, from week 19 of our Meadowood Farm share:
~2 pounds red potatoes
~1 pound of Russian banana fingerling potatoes
~1 pound of orange carrots
~1 pound of beets
~2 pounds of onions
~1 bunch of kale
~1 bunch of parsley
~1 bunch of celery
Looking for ways to get more veggies in your diet? Our friend (and breast cancer/bone cancer survivor), Meg Wolff has a new plant-based cookbook being released in November. Check out her website for details!
Join us every Tuesday at 7:20am with the Ray and Ted show! You can find us on WLOB 95.5FM (greater Portland), streaming at wlobradio.com!
Do you have suggestions for future health segments? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thanks again to Kate for this great post!