Check Yourself to Protect Yourself

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Currently, 1 in 8 women in the US have breast cancer. It’s critical for women to do monthly exams and to go for regular screenings. Let’s discuss what breast cancer is and how early detection is key for survival.

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow and multiply abnormally. This can happen if the genes in a cell that control cell growth no longer work properly. As a result, the cell divides uncontrollably and may form a tumor. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Many breast lumps are benign, meaning they are not cancerous. That means they can’t spread and are not life-threatening. Malignant tumors are cancerous. If left untreated, the cancer can invade surrounding tissue and spread or metastasize to other parts of the body.

Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (ductal cancers). Some start in the glands that make breast milk (lobular cancers). There are also other types of breast cancer that are less common. A small number of cancers start in other tissues in the breast. These cancers are called sarcomas and lymphomas and are not really thought of as breast cancers. Although many types of breast cancer can cause a lump in the breast, not all do.  Many breast cancers are found on screening mammograms which can detect cancers at an earlier stage, often before they can be felt, and before symptoms develop.

You may notice symptoms on your own that could be suspicious. If you notice any of the following, consult your doctor immediately:

  • a lump or thickness in or near the breast or under the arm
  • unexplained swelling or shrinkage of the breast, particularly on one side only
  • dimpling or puckering of the breast
  • nipple discharge (fluid) other than breast milk that occurs without squeezing the nipple
  • breast skin changes, such as redness, flaking, thickening, or pitting that looks like the skin of an orange
  • a nipple that becomes sunken (inverted), red, thick, or scaly

Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease. Having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will definitely get breast cancer. Many women with risk factors never do. Your risk for breast cancer rises as you get older. About 80% of breast cancers are found in women over age 50 — many of whom have no other known risk factors for the disease. Although you’re two to three times more likely to get breast cancer if you have a strong family history of the disease, only 5-10% of breast cancers are inherited, meaning that they are linked to gene mutations passed down in families, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Several other risk factors may slightly boost your chances of getting breast cancer. These include:

  • Gender: Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.
  • Personal Health History: If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the other breast in the future.
  • Menstrual and Reproductive History: Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after 55), having your first child at an older age, or never having given birth can also increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Certain Genome Changes: Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase your risk for breast cancer. This is determined through a genetic test, which you may consider taking if you have a family history of breast cancer. Individuals with these gene mutations can pass the gene mutation onto their children.
  • Dense Breast Tissue: Having dense breast tissue can increase your risk for breast cancer and make lumps harder to detect. Be sure to ask your physician if you have dense breasts and what the implications of having dense breasts are.

If you have breast cancer, knowing the stage helps guide your treatment plan. Breast cancer is typically staged with Roman numerals ranging from 0 (the earliest stage) to IV (the most advanced stage). The stages of breast cancer are used to describe the extent of your cancer at the time of diagnosis. Your doctor will base the stage of your cancer on a physical exam and other diagnostic tests. This is known as clinical stage. The final, or pathologic, stage is determined after surgery when the size of the cancer is measured under a microscope and it is definitely known if there is cancer in the lymph nodes. Cancer stages are based on:

  • whether the cancer is invasive or noninvasive
  • the size of the tumor
  • whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to the lymph nodes, and if so, to how many of them
  • whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or liver

Your doctor will assign a stage to your cancer after your physical exam and the initial results from your mammogram or other diagnostic imaging test. The stage may be adjusted after lab reports from your breast biopsy or surgery. In determining the stage of your cancer, your doctor will take into account what is called the T-N-M scale: T meaning tumor size; N relating to the involvement of nearby lymph nodes; and M referring to whether the cancer has metastasized (spread) beyond the breast to other parts of your body.

In conclusion, early detection is key to beating this horrible disease. Millions of women each year celebrate survival. Self-exams should be performed along with regular check-ups with your doctor. Those with a family history or other risk factors, should be even more diligent. A little extra time out of your day can make all the difference in your tomorrow.

References:

American Cancer Society

Memorial Sloan Kettering

National Breast Cancer Foundation

BreastCancer.Org

By Gina Stallone

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Bringing Awareness to an Invisible Illness

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels. 1 out of 10 women have this illness. Despite this ratio, experts believe that more than half of women with PCOS don’t even realize they have it. September is PCOS Awareness Month, where we shed some light on this invisible illness.

Women with PCOS have slightly higher levels of testosterone and androgen in the body than normal for the average woman. Despite the name, you may not necessarily have ovarian cysts. Symptoms can sometimes present themselves at the onset of a girl’s period; however, many won’t notice anything until they’ve gained a significant amount of weight or have trouble getting pregnant. In some cases, women don’t find out they have PCOS until after they have their first child. The most common symptoms are irregular periods, heavy bleeding, excess hair growth, acne, weight gain, male-pattern baldness, darkening of the skin, fatigue, and headaches. PCOS is also linked with chronic inflammation, which can leave you feeling achy, fatigued, and it contributes to weight gain.

Along with the myriad of symptoms, one of the biggest issues with PCOS is how it affects your ability to become and/or stay pregnant. In fact, it is the leading cause of female infertility. Between 70 and 80 percent of women with PCOS have fertility problems. This condition can also increase the risk of complication during pregnancy. Women with PCOS are twice as likely as women without the condition to deliver their baby prematurely. They’re also at greater risk for miscarriage, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. However, hope is not lost. Having PCOS does not mean you will be incapable of becoming pregnant naturally; it just may take longer than others. Losing weight and lowering blood sugar levels can improve your odds of having a healthy pregnancy. Women with PCOS can also get pregnant using fertility treatments that improve ovulation.

There is no cure for PCOS; however, there are several medications and treatments your doctor may suggest. Medications such as birth control & metformin are often prescribed to reduce symptoms and/or regulate your period. Fertility medicines may also be recommended for those trying to become pregnant. Your doctor may require regular tests and follow up visits to be sure that the treatment/medication is working properly and to adjust if necessary. Some doctors may also recommend supplements, including berberine, folate, B12, vitamin D, and inositol. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and weight control are also key treatments for PCOS. Unfortunately, it can be more challenging to lose weight and to maintain weight loss with PCOS. Some recommended foods to avoid are foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and muffins, sugary snacks and drinks, and inflammatory foods, such as processed and red meats. Many women with PCOS often have higher than normal insulin levels. Doctors advise that just a slight weight reduction and increase of exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help from your OB/GYN as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will be on the path to feeling better!

By: Gina Stallone

Diet and Exercise Both Needed for Weight Loss

There has been much debate about whether diet or exercise is more important for weight loss. There are obvious benefits for both changing dietary patterns and for starting an exercise regimen. A new study published in International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism  shows that weight loss is most effective when diet and exercise are combined. Subjects who did both reduced the most body bad and preserved the most muscle compared to just dieting or just exercising.  So to look your best, watch what you eat and hit the gym!

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Break Out The Bands

This week we tackle an entire workout using bands. Bands are great to increase mobility & strength while helping you focus on your form. They are perfect for beginners and those recovering from an injury however, they are good at any point in your journey. Always start with a light band and progress to a heavier band as you get stronger. For more information about the bands used or for any questions you may have, email Gina@thearena.fit or visit www.thearenafitness.com

Why Bigger Classes are Not Always Better

Group exercise classes are an extremely popular method of exercising in our society. Fitness seekers enjoy the energy, music, and camaraderie of a group setting. Many people prefer this type of workout rather than working out alone. There seems to be a class for every population and every fitness level.  Due to this group class craze, there is now a range of individual studios that focus only on one specific group exercise, such as spin, yoga, boot camps, Pilates, Zumba, or running. While there can be benefits to group exercise classes, they often negatively impact your progress and prohibit you from reaching your goals.

Each one of us if different. We all have different bodies, comprised of different muscle fibers, strengths, cardiovascular conditioning, injuries, pains, flexibility, balance, lifestyles, and stresses.  So, how can one exercise class be right for everyone? One important goal of exercise is to make sure that you are making individual improvements in strength and weight loss, and to ensure you are performing the exercises correctly for your body type to prevent injuries.

One of the potential problems with large group exercise classes is the teacher to client ratio. It is impossible for an instructor to adequately spot and correct the form of everyone in the class throughout the entire session. Therefore, exercisers may be putting too much strain on certain joints, may not be activating the correct muscles, and may be hurting or straining their backs. This can lead to orthopedic issues, which include muscle tears, muscle strains, and disc problems. Secondly, the activity level of the class may vary. Therefore, some people may be working out too hard while others are not getting the correct amount of stimulation. Because of the class size, it is unlikely teachers will offer modifications to make sure each person is exercising at the correct intensity.  Next, because of the group dynamic, exercisers may be pushed harder than they are capable of working in order to keep up with the group and to be a part of the crowd.   This can be very dangerous if your body is not physically able to perform the class.

Further, the recent surge of group exercise classes has been associated with an increase in rhabdomyolysis, which is a condition that is caused by extreme exercise and could be potentially life threatening. While some muscle damage is normal and beneficial for muscle growth, rhabdomyolysis occurs when the stress is so great that fibers are destroyed and break apart to release myoglobin, which is harmful to the liver. According to the American Journal of Medicine, doctors have been finding that some people, especially beginners, have developed rhabdomyolysis after taking a high intensity spin class. This condition does not only affect spinners; in fact, doctors found it associated with any type of excessive weight training, running, P90X, and CrossFit Classes. It is important to note that not all the people who developed rhabdomyolysis were unfit; they were pushed too hard and then developed muscle trauma. It is extremely important to give muscles adequate time to adjust to new exercises. When you start any kind of new exercise program, try a less intense version to start. Work your way up gradually and know your limits! Do not ignore signs of injury and make sure to rest!

Working out in a group can be very motivating and empowering. This dynamic is the reason that many people go to the gym.  A room filled with loud music and enthusiastic peers can be more uplifting than sitting on a stationary bike by yourself. If you are group class advocate, it is important to know your limits and to abide by them. Wear a heart rate monitor and perform a self-check to see how you feel during the class. Additionally, it would be extremely beneficial to schedule an individual session with a personal trainer to make sure your form and positioning is correct so you can self-adjust during exercise classes.  A trainer can also help you come up with modifications unique to your body type and limitations. Another option is semi-private training or small group classes where the teacher can be more hands-on and helpful.

Make sure that you get the biggest bang for your buck from your fitness routine.  Exercise is extremely beneficial both mentally and physically. That is why it is so important to make sure that you are maximizing your time and effort.  Large group exercise classes are not tailored to individual needs. This may cause injuries and also prevent some people from reaching their full potential and optimizing their health. Please be an educated consumer and work out to your full potential!

 

by Denise Groothuis

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Join me for this 30-minute total body bootcamp & let’s Fight to be Fit together! It won’t be easy but I promise it WILL be worth it!
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Zinc

Zinc

What is zinc?
Zinc is an essential mineral and it is the second most abundant trace element in
the human body. In fact, the body has about 2g of zinc, found mostly in the
brain, bones, kidney, liver, prostate and eyes. Zinc has antioxidant properties
and has a role in DNA and RNA metabolism. It is found in more than 300
enzymes, and is also used as an enzyme catalyst. Zinc plays a major role in
immune function, reproduction, growth and development, wound healing, blood
clotting, taste and smell, insulin action, blood clotting, and thyroid function,
behavior and learning.

Where is zinc found?
Zinc is found in foods that contain protein, like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. It is
also found in some vegetables and nuts. Zinc is especially high in oysters, wheat
germ, beef, pumpkin and squash seeds, dark chocolate and cocoa powder,
peanuts, and crab. Many breakfast cereals and wheat products are fortified with
zinc.

What are the benefits of zinc?
Zinc is effective in treating diarrhea in malnourished children in the developing
world. It has also been shown to treat acne, slow the progression of age-related
macular degeneration, improve weight and depression status in anorexia
nervosa, improve symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder),
and decrease the duration of the common cold. Additionally, zinc appears to slow
bone loss, treat and prevent peptic ulcers, treat leg ulcers, and improve vitamin
A deficiency when taken with vitamin A. Topically, it seems to help prevent and
treat gingivitis, herpes simplex virus, and treat burns.

Are there interactions between zinc and food, herbs or other
supplements?

Zinc absorption may be improved when taking Vitamin D and riboflavin, while
calcium, chromium, and phytic acid may decrease zinc absorption. High intake
of zinc may interfere with the absorption of manganese, magnesium, iron,
copper, and bromelain, and chromium.

Are there side effects from zinc?
Zinc can cause nausea, vomiting, and a metallic taste in the mouth. Topically, it
can cause itching, stinging and burning.

To purchase zinc: http://www.metagenics.com/mp/products/zinc-ag

Practitioner code: DGroothuisRD

Valerian

Valerian

What is valerian and where is it found?
Valerian is an herb that comes from the root of the valerian plant. It is sold as a
nutritional supplement. It comes in capsules or tablets, but it is also
incorporated into teas and tinctures.

What are the benefits of valerian?
Valerian is used as a sedative, anticonvulsant, pain reliever, and migraine
treatment. It is mainly used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders by
giving people better quality sleep and helping them fall asleep faster. The
benefit of valerian over prescription medication is that it may not have as much
as a “hangover effect” on next day mental and physical functioning. Additionally,
valerian has been used to treat anxiety.

Are there interactions with valerian and food or medications?
Valerian should not be taken with alcohol, narcotics, barbituates, over the
counter sleep aids, or any other sedatives. The combination may cause increased
drowsiness, since it may increase the sedative effect.

Are there side effects rom valerian?
Valerian may cause stomach upset, headaches, dry mouth, apathy, and mild
depression. In rare cases, valerian may also cause an allergic reaction, resulting
in itchiness with rash or hives, or difficulty breathing.