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Environmental Factors Associated with Breast Cancer

A recent report says that "Lifestyle Changes Prevent One-Third of Cancers", and that fewer than 10 percent of breast cancer cases are inherited (33rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, 12/7/2011).

Anything that increases a woman's exposure to estrogen also increases her risk for breast cancer, a disease that affects one in eight women:

• being overweight: Full fat cells make estrogen, so overweight women have more estrogen
• not exercising: lack of exercise increases risk for obesity
• drinking alcohol
• taking birth control pills
• taking estrogen and progesterone pills at any age
• starting periods before age 11
• starting menopause after age 55
• never being pregnant (thus more menstrual cycles)
• never breast feeding

Radiation from too many medical tests also increases breast cancer risk. Three abdominal CT scans give as much radiation as atomic bomb survivors received. Possible, but unproven, causes of breast cancer include: smoking, second-hand smoke, nighttime shift work, exposure to benzene and other chemicals, or to BPA and certain other plastics ingredients.

There is no evidence that breast cancer is caused by hair dyes or by radiation from cellphones, microwaves or other electronic gadgets.

WHY DOCTORS PRESCRIBE PROGESTERONE: Taking progesterone and estrogen markedly increases breast cancer risk. Estrogen stimulates the inner lining of the uterus to grow, and uncontrolled growth is cancer. Taking estrogen can cause uterine cancer, while progesterone stops estrogen from stimulating the uterus. So, to prevent uterine cancer, doctors usually prescribe progesterone with estrogen to any woman who still has a uterus. However, taking both estrogen and progesterone increases breast cancer risk. Many doctors now recommend no hormone therapy for women at menopause.

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Restrict Ice During Athletic Events

When an athlete is injured, trainers and coaches frequently apply ice to the injured part. The cooling may help decrease swelling, but it interferes with the athlete's strength, speed, endurance and coordination (Sports Med, Nov 28, 2011).

A literature search found 35 studies; most used cooling for more than 20 minutes. Most reported that immediately after cooling, there was a decrease in strength, speed, power and agility-based running. A short re-warming period returned strength, speed and coordination. The authors recommend that cooling should be done for less than five minutes, followed by progressive warming prior to returning to play.

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A Possible Cure for Muscle Pain from Statins

Some people who take statin drugs to treat high cholesterol develop muscle pain and damage. The people who are most likely to suffer these complications are those who exercise intensely. The authors reviewed the scientific literature and found two studies showing that statin-induced muscle pain may be associated with vitamin D deficiency, and may be treated with vitamin D3 pills or sunlight (Atherosclerosis, March 2011;215(1):23-29). You cannot meet your needs for vitamin D from food.

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown in other studies to cause muscle pain and weakness. Interestingly, statin drugs can increase blood levels of vitamin D, so people on statins who have low blood levels of vitamin D would have had even lower blood levels of vitamin D without taking statins.

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What's Wrong with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines?

Walter Willett, the chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard, is the most published nutritionist in the world. He thinks that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines are flawed because they cater to large food-selling companies (N Engl J Med October 27, 2011;365:1563-1565). North Americans suffer premature death from poor eating habits that increase their risk for obesity, heart attacks, strokes, gout, and certain cancers. Dr. Willett says "The dietary guidelines should base recommendations primarily on foods, not nutrients, and should explicitly state which foods should be consumed less to reduce risk for chronic disease."

He argues that many of the guidelines are not based on scientific evidence:

• The 35 percent limit on calories from fat - no good data supports restriction of all fats; research shows that you should eat the good fats found in plants (peanuts, olives, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and so forth).

• Three daily servings of dairy products - Dairy products have not been shown to prevent bone fractures and may even increase risk for prostate and ovarian cancers.

• Whole grains - Most whole grains eaten in the U.S. are refined (ground into flour) which provide unneeded calories and cause a high rise in blood sugar that can lead to diabetes and heart attacks, and damage every cell in your body. Un-ground whole grains do not cause a high rise in blood sugar.

• The guidelines fail to emphasize glycemic load, which identifies which foods cause the highest rises in blood sugar.

• The guidelines fail to emphasize that people should restrict red meat, cheese, butter, and sugar.

• The guidelines do not emphasize that people drink too many sugared liquids. Fruit juices cause as high a rise in blood sugar levels as sugared soft drinks. A teaspoon of sugar in coffee is as dangerous as any other sugared drink in increasing risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gout, and dental cavities.

The guidelines do correctly emphasize that you should:

• eat lots of vegetables, beans, fruits, whole grains, and nuts
• eat a healthful plant-based diet
• replace "some" red meat and poultry with fish
• replace trans fats and saturated fats with unsaturated fats

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Recipe of the Week:

Extra Quick Chili

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

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December 11th, 2011
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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