VA’s Commitment to Women Veterans

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MAY 18, 2017 AT 3:17 PM ET BY SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS DAVID SHULKIN

As we celebrate Women’s Health Week, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has adopted American Cancer Society (ACS) breast cancer screening guidelines that give women a choice to begin screening at age 40.

The guidelines also recommend starting yearly mammograms by age 45 and then every other year from age 55. The guidelines apply to women at average risk for breast cancer and complement VA’s already-extensive program for breast care for Veterans.

I believe it’s important for our women Veterans to know that they are in control of their care and the care they receive from VA is consistent with or exceeds care in the private sector. Adopting American Cancer Society standards gives Veterans further assurances that their care aligns with other health-care systems.

It’s worth drawing attention to a few other related facts:

  • All eligible women Veterans have access to mammograms either onsite or through care in the community;
  • Currently, 76 percent of women Veterans age 40-49 receive mammograms through VA.
  • VA quality scores from the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS), show that women Veterans are much more likely to receive age-appropriate breast cancer screening than women in private sector health care;
  • In 2015, VA provided mammogram screenings to 86 percent of its women Veteran patients age 50-74, compared with the private sector at 73 percent; and
  • VA has established a state-of-the-art information technology Breast Cancer Registry (BCR). The BCR integrates data from several VA sources to provide comprehensive patient specific information about breast cancer screening, test results, past and current breast cancer treatment, and population surveillance of breast care (both in the community and within VA).

Our Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Poonam Alaigh said it perhaps best last week: “Engaging and better servicing the unique healthcare needs of our women Veterans is one of VA’s most important priorities. When it comes to their care, we want women Veterans to be in control of it every day and in every way.”

For more information about VA’s commitment to women Veterans, please visit https://www.va.gov/womenvet/ or call 855-VA-WOMEN (855-829-6636) for information about VA services and resources.

 

Read the original article here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/05/18/vas-commitment-women-veterans

 

10 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally

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By Dr. Axe

naturally balance hormones title

Hormones — such as estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline and insulin — are extremely important chemical messengers that affect many aspects of your overall health. Hormones are secreted by various glands and organs including your thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries, testicles and pancreas. The entire endocrine system works together to control the level of hormones circulating throughout your body, and if one or more is even even slightly imbalanced it can cause widespread, major health problems.

Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances usually include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. Unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders, relying on these types of synthetic treatments often does three things:

  1. It makes people dependent on taking prescription drugs for the rest of their lives in order to keep symptoms under control
  2. It simply masks the patient’s symptoms, but doesn’t solve them, which means that the patient can continue to develop abnormalities in other areas of the body while the disorder progresses
  3. It causes a higher risk for serious side effects such as stroke, osteoporosis, anxiety, reproductive problems, cancer and more

The good news is there are ways to balance your hormones naturally. Below you’ll learn what type of hormonal imbalance your specific symptoms might be pointing to, what the root causes of your hormonal problem are, and how you can help treat the problem without experiencing the negative side effects associated with synthetic treatments.


Signs & Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalances

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of hormone imbalances include:

  • Infertility and irregular periods
  • Weight gain or weight loss (that’s unexplained and not due to intentional changes in your diet)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Low libido
  • Changes in appetite
  • Digestive issues
  • Hair loss and hair thinning

Symptoms of hormonal imbalances can range drastically depending on what type of disorder or illness they cause. For example, high estrogen can contribute to problems including endometriosis and reproductive issues, while symptoms of diabetes often include weight gain, changes in appetite, nerve damage, and problems with eyesight.

Some specific problems associated with some of the most common hormonal imbalances include:

  • Estrogen dominance: changes in sleep patterns, changes in weight and appetite, higher perceived stress, slowed metabolism
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): infertility, weight gain, higher risk for diabetes, acne, abnormal hair growth
  • Low estrogen: low sex drive, reproductive problems, menstrual irregularity, changes in mood
  • Hypothyroidism: slowed metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, digestive issues, irregular periods
  • Low testosterone: erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, mood-related problems
  • Hyperthyroidism & Grave’s Disease: anxiety, thinning hair, weight loss, IBS, trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeats
  • Diabetes: weight gain, nerve damage (neuropathy), higher risk for vision loss, fatigue, trouble breathing, dry mouth, skin problems
  • Adrenal fatigue: fatigue, muscle aches and pains, anxiety and depression, trouble sleeping, brain fog, reproductive problems

Risk Factors & Causes of Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances are multi-factorial disorders, meaning they are caused by a combination of factors such as your diet, medical history, genetics, stress levels and exposure to toxins from your environment. Some of the major contributors to hormonal imbalances include:

  • Food allergies and gut issues: An expanding field of new research shows that your gut health plays a significant role in hormone regulation. If you have leaky gut syndrome or a lack of beneficial probiotic bacteria lining your intestinal wall, your more susceptible to hormonal problems including diabetes and obesity. That’s because inflammation usually stems from your gut and then impacts nearly every aspect of your health (1)
  • Being overweight or obese
  • High levels of inflammation caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Toxicity (exposure to pesticides, toxins, viruses, cigarettes, excessive alcohol and harmful chemicals) (2)
  • High amount of stress, and a lack of enough sleep and rest

10 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally

1. Eat Healthy Fats (Including Coconut Oil and Avocados)

Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is key to keeping your hormones in check. Your body needs various types of fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism and promote weight loss.

My four favorite sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats include: coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and wild-caught salmon. Coconut oil uses are plentiful− for example coconut oil (or cream/milk) has natural anti-bacterial and fat-burning effects. Avocado benefits include improving heart health, lowering inflammation, controlling your appetite and contributing to your daily intake of fiber and nutrients such as potassum.  Salmon nutrition is also impressive: it’s one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower inflammation and help with cognitive functions.

2. Supplement with Adaptogen Herbs 

Adaptogen herbs are a unique class of healing plants that promote hormone balance and protection the body from a wide variety of diseases, including those caused by excess stress. In addition to boosting immune function and combating stress, research shows that various adapotogens — such as ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, rhodiola and holy basil — can:

  • Improve thyroid function (3)
  • Lower cholesterol naturally
  • Reduce anxiety and depression (4)
  • Reduce brain cell degeneration
  • Stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels (5)
  • Support adrenal gland functions (6)

3. Balance Your Intake of Omega-3 to Omega-6 Fats

Since the early 20th century, the use of refined vegetable oils and intake of omega-6 fatty acids in our diets have skyrocketed. Because people didn’t also boost their intake of omega-3 foods during this time period, the result has been drastically elevated omega-6 levels.  I’ve seen an onslaught of chronic diseases caused by inflammatoryprocesses literally take over our society, and a major reason why is because of very disproportionate fatty acids in the Western modern diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a large component of brain-cell membranes and are important for cell-to-cell communication in the brain. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids help protect against hippocampal neuronal loss and reduce pro-inflammatory responses. (7) Research from Pennsylvania State University suggests that jumping from a ratio of 1:1 omega-3/omega-6s (the ratio our hunter-gather ancestors mostly enjoyed) to the astronomical ratio between 10:1 and 20:1 (omega-3/omega-6s) is one of the primary dietary factors causing many diseases in America. (8)

Here’s a rule of thumb: Be sure to steer clear from oils high in omega-6 fats (safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut), and load up on rich sources of natural omega-3s instead (wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products). I want to also mention, there is a type of omega-6 fat you want to try and get in your diet called GLA. GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) can be taken in supplement form by using evening primrose oil or borage oil, and it’s also found in hemp seeds. Studies show supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.

4. Improve Gut Health & Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut is a condition that not only affects your digestive tract, but also causes hormone issues. Gut problems have been found to trigger autoimmune reactions, including arthritis and thyroid disorders. (9) So what exactly is leaky gut syndrome?

When undigested food particles, like gluten for example, leak through your gut into your bloodstream, it causes disease-causing inflammation that impacts the entire body — especially glands like the thyroid which is very susceptible to heightened inflammation. Most people with leaky gut have an a deficiency of probiotics in their guts. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can actually improve your production and regulation of key hormones like insulin, ghrelin and leptin.

Steer clear of the foods that can cause damage in your digestive system most, including: processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils and added sugar. The top foods and supplements that support healing leaky gut include: bone broth, kefir, fermented vegetables, and high-fiber foods like vegetables and sprouted seeds. In addition, supplements like digestive enzymes and probiotics can aid in repairing your gut lining,which in turn can balance your hormones.

5. Eliminate Toxic Kitchen, Beauty and Body Care Products

Another way to eliminate toxins in your body is to avoid conventional body care products that are made with potentially-harmful chemicals including DEA, parabens, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate. A better alternative is to use natural products made with ingredients like essential oils, coconut oil, shea butter and castor oil. The Environmental Working Group evaluated over 72,000 products and ranked them in an easy-to-understand guide to make sure you have a resource to keep your family safe. Check out EWG’s “Skin Deep Cosmetic Database” today for recommendations for which products to use and avoid.

Another thing to consider is your use of plastic bottles, aluminum cans and containers. It’s best to replace plastic and aluminum with glass and stainless steel because of the toxic effects of BPAAnother wise precaution is to switch from teflon pans to stainless steel, ceramic or cast iron, which can make a big difference in the amount of chemicals making their way into the food you prepare.

6. Exercise (Especially Interval Training)

One of the best all-around activities you can do for your health is high intensity interval training (HIIT) − including one of my favorite types called burst training. If there is a silver bullet out there to help with a sluggish metabolism, weight gain and other issues, this just might be it! Exercise in general is great for balancing hormones because it reduces inflammation, can help you maintain a healthy weight, lowers stress, helps regulate your appetite, and aids in getting better sleep.

Whether we’re talking about endorphins from a “runner’s high”, testosterone, growth hormone or insulin, HIIT and burst training can help your body regulate production and use of these hormones. Exercise can also enhance your immune system, allow your cells to take up more glucose (which lowers insulin), protect you from depression, and keep you more alert without the need for caffeine.

According to the University of Notre Dame Medical School in Sydney, “HIT is associated with increased patient compliance and improved cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes and is suitable for implementation in both healthy and ‘at risk’ populations”. (10)  For people with hormonal imbalances, the key with exercise is to be careful not to overdo it. Training for a shorter period of time (about 20 minutes three times a week) but with higher intensity works well for most people who can’t afford to add any extra stress to their system. Keep in mind that optimal exercise can differ a lot from person to person however, so it’s a good idea to seek advise from a processional if you’re ever unsure.

7. Reduce Stress & Get More Sleep

Unless you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you’re doing your body no favors. A lack of sleep or disturbing your natural circadian rhythm can be one of the worst habits contributing to a hormone imbalance. How so? Because your hormones work on a schedule! Case in point: Cortisol, the primary “stress hormone”, is regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late never truly get a break from their sympathetic flight/fight stress response.

A lack of sleep, long-term use of corticosteroids and chronic stress are three of the biggest contributors to high cortisol levels. A report published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism stated that “Stress can lead to changes in the serum level of many hormones including glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin”. (11)

Sleep helps keep stress hormones balanced, builds energy and allows the body to recover properly. Excessive stress and poor sleep are linked with higher levels of morning cortisol, decreased immunity, trouble with work performance, and a higher susceptibility to anxiety, weight gain and depression. To maximize hormone function, ideally try to get to bed by 10 p.m and stick with a regular sleep-wake-cycle as much as possible.

8. Watch Your Caffeine & Alcohol Intake

Caffeine in moderate amounts might be okay for some people, but drinking too much caffeine is almost as bad as not getting enough sleep. Caffeine, which can stay in your system for up to six hours, is a chemical that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and raises your heart rate, increases alertness, and changes the way your brain produces hormones. Although caffeine overdoses are rare, caffeine is capable of elevating cortisol levels if it interferes with your normal sleep cycle. It might also have an impact on other stress hormones, such as adrenaline production. You’re probably aware that caffeine is addictive by nature, increases nervousness and anxiety in many people, and is linked with insomnia.

If you need a little boost during the day, try not to drink more than one–two cups. Ideally you’ll turn to matcha green tea or tulsi tea which are much lower in caffeine. The good news is that once you’re health is back on track, small amounts of caffeine can usuallyu be toleraable, and even beneficial. Dartmouth Medical School reports that “caffeine has been shown to increase insulin levels, reduce insulin sensitivity, and increase cortisol levels. However, epidemiological studies have indicated that long-term consumption of beverages containing caffeine such as coffee and green tea is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus”. (12)

Another important step is to watch your alcohol intake, since high levels of alcohol (above about 2-3 drinks daily) can negatively impact liver functioning. Chronic alcohol consumption can contribute to estrogen dominance and has been found to interfere with pancreatic functioning, increase liver disease risk, lower testosterone and contribute to anxiety and malnutrition. The liver is very important for hormonal balance and has over 500 different functions in the body! Of course it’s extremely important to quit smoking too. Studies have found that smoking interferes with normal immunological and reproductive processes. Compared with nonsmokers, moderate to heavy smokers (≥ 10 cigarettes/day) have abnormal levels of steroid metabolites and reproductive hormones that can be up to 35 percent higher than usual.  (13)

9. Supplement with Vitamin D3

According to an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D3’s role in promoting health is more profound than previously suspected. Researchers found that vitamin D has an impact in the following ways: (14)

It affects “the adaptive immune system, the innate immune system, insulin secretion by the pancreatic β cell, multifactorial heart functioning and blood pressure regulation, and brain and fetal development.” 

Vitamin D almost acts like a hormone inside the body and has important implications for keeping inflammation levels low. This is why people who live in dark areas often suffer from seasonal depression and other health problems unless they supplement with vitamin D. Sunshine is really the best way to optimize vitamin D levels because your bare skin actually makes vitamin D on its own when exposed to even small amounts of direct sunlight. Most people should supplement with around 2,000 IU to 5,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 if they live in dark areas, during the winter, and on days when they’re not in the sun.

10. Back Off Birth Control Pills

In simplest terms, “the pill” is a type of hormone therapy that raises estrogen levels to such dangerous levels that it can cause many complications. I cannot urge you strongly enough to stop using the pill immediately, especially considering that there are many other (safer) ways to prevent pregnancy. My thoughts on taking the pill can be summed up this way: Just say no to birth control pills! Studies show that the risks of taking them, especially long-term, can include: (15)

  • Breakthrough bleeding between cycles
  • Increased risk of breast cancer
  • Increased risk of uterine bleeding, blood clotting, heart attack and stroke
  • Migraines
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Back pains
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Benign liver tumors
  • Breast tenderness

Precautions When Treating Hormonal Imbalances

In some cases, synthetic hormonal treatments (such as insulin or thyroid medication) will be necessary to treat a hormonal imbalance. However the majority of people can feel a lot better by making the lifestyle changes described above.

For people with diagnosed hormonal disorders− including type 1 or type 2 diabetes, Adrenal Insufficiency, Addison’s Disease, Graves’s Disease and Cushing’s Syndrome for example− it’s always important to speak with your doctor before discontinuing medication use. The natural treatments above can still help you overcome your illness and greatly reduce symptoms, but these recommendations shouldn’t take the place of medical supervision. Because hormone imbalances vary so widely in terms of severity of symptoms, always keep track of how you’re feeling, do your research and evaluate how you respond to different treatments.


Final Thoughts on Hormonal Imbalances:

  • Hormonal imbalances affect many millions of people worldwide, in the forms of common disorders like diabetes, thyroid disorders, menstrual irregularities, infertility, low testosterone and estrogen dominance
  • Symptoms include feeling anxious, tired, irritable, gaining or losing weight, not sleeping well and noticing changes in your sex drive, focus and appetite
  • Causes for hormonal imbalances include poor gut health, inflammation, high amounts of stress, genetic susceptibility, and toxicity
  • Natural treatments include eating an anti-inflammatory diet, consuming enough omega-3s, getting good sleep, exercising and controlling stress

Read Original Article: https://draxe.com/10-ways-balance-hormones-naturally/

 

7 Things Every Mother Needs to Tell Her Daughter About Breast Cancer Prevention

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By Marnie Clark

Benjamin Franklin’s old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is never more appropriate than when it comes to breast cancer prevention. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, at least 33 percent of breast cancer is preventable. Many natural health practitioners suspect that percentage is actually much higher. By simply adopting healthy lifestyle practices, it is estimated that you can bring that breast cancer prevention figure closer to 50 percent.

It is crucial to learn the things that can put women at higher risk for breast cancer. Not only do you want to avoid these risk factors, but also teach your daughters (and sisters and friends) about them. As a breast cancer coach, I always discuss these important breast cancer prevention tips with my clients.

7 Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention

  1. Better Nutrition Comes from Whole Foods and Organic Foods

A healthy diet that provides good nutrition is the foundation of having good health. It is critical to teach our children how to eat wholesome nutritious foods and avoid packaged, processed foods. The goal is to avoid or minimize sugar, and to get back to the basics of wonderfully prepared natural and organic whole foods including vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and high quality free-range animal foods. Our bodies were designed to operate optimally on a whole foods diet (not a processed foods diet) and certainly not on chicken nuggets, soft drinks, and French fries.

The need for everyone to eat organic produce is at an all-time high due to our fruits and vegetables being so highly sprayed with cancer-causing pesticides. Many foods are genetically modified and it is becoming increasingly clear that GMOs are not safe for us to consume. In addition, soil depletion is occurring, which yields crops that are lower in nutrients than what was being produced just a few decades ago.

Organically grown animal foods are also a much better choice because conventionally raised animals are being pumped full of hormones and antibiotics that are increasing the incidence of breast cancer. These factory farmed animals also eat a diet that is unnaturally high in foods (corn and soy) that promote inflammation (high in omega-6 fats) when we consume them. Choosing organic produce and animal foods (preferably pasture-raised because these animals are, for the most part, eating what nature intended them to eat and will be much lower in omega-6 fats) not only decreases your cancer risk, it is also much better for the planet.

  1. Avoid Toxic Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Toxic chemicals are now present in just about everything we use in our homes and on our bodies, from dish washing liquid to eye shadow. These chemicals (and there are about 70,000 of them) are known hormone disrupters.

In addition to being toxic and carcinogenic, these substances can increase the estrogen load in the body over time and are difficult to detoxify through the liver. Called “xenoestrogens” (foreign estrogens), they mimic our body’s own estrogen and can alter hormone activity. Growing evidence implicates xenoestrogens in a wide range of human health problems, including breast cancer.

The easy solution is to use non-toxic or organic personal care products and cosmetics. It is important to know that the word “natural” on the label means almost nothing because the product can still contain toxic chemicals. It is best to look for organic certification on the label and to know what ingredients to watch out for. What goes on your skin gets in your bloodstream so it’s important to be proactive about this and to minimize toxic chemicals. What’s in your bloodstream can easily circulate throughout your body and into cells that create your hormones and organs.

Personally, I scrutinize every single thing I put on my body and I suggest you do as well. From nail polish (don’t use it) to hair spray to mascara. A good source of information to determine the relative safety (or dangers) of ingredients in personal care products and cosmetics is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

  1. Move Your Body

The American Cancer Society estimates that half of all cancer deaths could be avoided by practicing healthy lifestyle habits such as simple exercise. Recent research tells us that obesity, especially in the middle-adult years, increases the risk of breast cancer.

It is important to teach your daughter an active lifestyle and it is best to lead by example. Take her hiking, skating, for long walks in parks, have her participate in sports, ballet, dancing. Whatever gets her moving and enjoying physical activity! Also, tell her why it is so important.

  1. Keep Your Cell Phone Away from Your Body and Out of Your Bra

Studies have determined that heavy use of cell phones increases the chance for brain tumors. Children are more vulnerable to electromagnetic frequencies because they have thinner skull bones and smaller heads. Their brain tissue also has a higher conductivity and this puts them at a higher risk.

Although there does not at present appear to be any studies which link breast cancer risk with cell phone use, I have seen too many women use their bras to hold their cell phones. As a cancer coach, I know of several women who tucked their cell phones into their bras and later developed breast cancer in that breast.

A doctor at an alternative cancer clinic being interviewed stated that three women under his care at that time for breast cancer had very often placed their cell phones either under the bra strap or in their bra and developed a tumor in that exact location! We may not know for sure that cell phones cause breast cancer, but it is relatively simple to put your cell phone elsewhere, away from your body.

  1. Use Meditation or Other Relaxation Techniques

It has long been known that prolonged periods of unmanaged stress can lead to diseases such as cancer. Nearly every one of my coaching clients tells me that they were under an extraordinary load of stress in the lead-up to their breast cancer diagnosis. Doctors tend to refute this, but science is starting to catch up and understand how cortisol, the main hormone that is released during periods of stress, can lead to disease such as breast cancer.

One of the best things you can teach your daughter is meditation. Children who learn how to meditate and relax deal more effectively with stress. They also learn how to live in the moment more often, how to distance themselves from stress and anxiety, and how to settle their minds, thus reducing cortisol levels and so much more. Again, this is about you leading by example because if your daughter still lives at home with you, she may be less likely to do this if she doesn’t see you doing it. If you don’t know how, perhaps you can learn and meditate together.

  1. Don’t Smoke and Don’t Drink Alcohol (or Keep it to a Minimum)

You’ve heard this before and it’s so important that it bears repeating. Both smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer, other cancers, and heart disease. Smoking has been linked with increased cancer risk, especially if someone smokes regularly before their first child. If you or your daughter smokes and has trouble quitting, switch to American Spirit additive-free cigarettes. Even better and cheaper is to roll your own with non-toxic paper using organic tobacco. Even getting away from commercial cigarette brands is a huge step in the right direction.

Studies on alcohol have shown that compared with non-drinkers, people that have one alcoholic drink per day have a small increase in risk. However those who have two to five drinks daily increase their breast cancer risk by one-and-a-half times over those who do not drink alcohol.

  1. Avoid Birth Control Pills

Most doctors, after writing a prescription for birth control pills, likely don’t tell their patients, “you are increasing your risk of cancer”. Oral contraceptives increase a woman’s risk of certain cancers. In particular, cancers of the breast, cervix, and liver, says the National Cancer Institute’s own website. A recent study done with African American women revealed that oral contraceptive use increased the risk of estrogen-receptor positive, estrogen-receptor negative, and triple negative breast cancers. The risk declined after a woman stopped using oral contraceptives, but was still a causative factor for estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer for up to 15-19 years after stopping, and even longer for estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Prevention Mother Daughter

Teaching Breast Cancer Prevention by Example

Simply understanding the factors that puts women at a higher risk for breast cancer is not enough. It’s critical for you to live by example and if you don’t know, then learn the breast cancer signs for yourself and teach them to your daughter. Encourage your daughter to be proactive with her health and not expect her doctor to take care of her because they either can’t or won’t.

Each one of us has our own responsibility to be properly informed about breast cancer prevention and websites such as The Truth About Cancer will give you trustworthy and accurate information you can follow. It’s now up to you to take  the necessary steps… both for your sake and for the women you love.

To read article on the Truth About Cancer Website, please click here.

Health and Friendship

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friendsImage Credit: http://www.tv.com

Discover the connection between health and friendship, and how to promote and maintain healthy friendships.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to build or maintain friendships. Understand the importance of friendships in your life and what you can do to develop and nurture friendships.

Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

Many adults find it hard to develop new friendships or keep up existing friendships. Friendships may take a back seat to other priorities, such as work or caring for children or aging parents. You and your friends may have grown apart due to changes in your lives or interests. Or maybe you’ve moved to a new community and haven’t yet found a way to meet people.

Developing and maintaining good friendships takes effort. The enjoyment and comfort friendship can provide, however, makes the investment worthwhile.

Quality counts more than quantity. While it’s good to cultivate a diverse network of friends and acquaintances, you also want to nurture a few truly close friends who will be there for you through thick and thin.

It’s possible that you’ve overlooked potential friends who are already in your social network. Think through people you’ve interacted with — even very casually — who made a positive impression.

You may find potential friends among people with whom:

  • You’ve worked or taken classes
  • You’ve been friends in the past, but have since lost touch
  • You’ve enjoyed chatting with at social gatherings
  • You share family ties

If anyone stands out in your memory as someone you’d like to know better, reach out. Ask mutual friends or acquaintances to share the person’s contact information, or — even better — to reintroduce the two of you with a text, email or in-person visit. Extend an invitation to coffee or lunch.

To meet new people who might become your friends, you have to go to places where others are gathered. Don’t limit yourself to one strategy for meeting people. The broader your efforts, the greater your likelihood of success.

Persistence also matters. Take the initiative rather than waiting for invitations to come your way, and keep trying. You may need to suggest plans a few times before you can tell if your interest in a new friend is mutual.

For example, try several of these ideas:

  • Attend community events. Look for groups or clubs that gather around an interest or hobby you share. These groups are often listed in the newspaper or on community bulletin boards. There are also many websites that help you connect with new friends in your neighborhood or city. Do a Google search using terms such as [your city] + social network, or [your neighborhood] + meet-ups.
  • Volunteer. Offer your time or talents at a hospital, place of worship, museum, community center, charitable group or other organization. You can form strong connections when you work with people who have mutual interests.
  • Extend and accept invitations. Invite a friend to join you for coffee or lunch. When you’re invited to a social gathering, say yes. Contact someone who recently invited you to an activity and return the favor.
  • Take up a new interest. Take a college or community education course to meet people who have similar interests. Join a class at a local gym, senior center or community fitness facility.
  • Join a faith community. Take advantage of special activities and get-to-know-you events for new members.
  • Take a walk. Grab your kids or pet and head outside. Chat with neighbors who are also out and about or head to a popular park and strike up conversations there.

Above all, stay positive. You may not become friends with everyone you meet, but maintaining a friendly attitude and demeanor can help you improve the relationships in your life and sow the seeds of friendship with new acquaintances.

Joining a chat group or online community might help you make or maintain connections and relieve loneliness. However, research suggests that use of social networking sites doesn’t necessarily translate to a larger offline network or closer offline relationships with network members. In addition, remember to exercise caution when sharing personal information or arranging an activity with someone you’ve only met online.

Developing and maintaining healthy friendships involves give-and-take. Sometimes you’re the one giving support, and other times you’re on the receiving end. Letting friends know you care about them and appreciate them can help strengthen your bond. It’s as important for you to be a good friend as it is to surround yourself with good friends.

To nurture your friendships:

  • Be kind. This most-basic behavior, emphasized during childhood, remains the core of successful, adult relationships. Think of friendship as an emotional bank account. Every act of kindness and every expression of gratitude are deposits into this account, while criticism and negativity draw down the account.
  • Listen up. Ask what’s going on in your friends’ lives. Let the other person know you are paying close attention through eye contact, body language and occasional brief comments such as, “That sounds fun.” When friends share details of hard times or difficult experiences, be empathetic, but don’t give advice unless your friends ask for it.
  • Open up. Build intimacy with your friends by opening up about yourself. Being willing to disclose personal experiences and concerns shows that your friend holds a special place in your life, and deepens your connection.
  • Show that you can be trusted. Being responsible, reliable and dependable is key to forming strong friendships. Keep your engagements and arrive on time. Follow through on commitments you’ve made to your friends. When your friends share confidential information, keep it private.
  • Make yourself available. Building a close friendship takes time — together. Make an effort to see new friends regularly, and to check in with them in between meet-ups. You may feel awkward the first few times you talk on the phone or get together, but this feeling is likely to pass as you get more comfortable with each other.
  • Manage your nerves with mindfulness. You may find yourself imagining the worst of social situations, and feel tempted to stay home. Use mindfulness exercises to reshape your thinking. Each time you imagine the worst, pay attention to how often the embarrassing situations you’re afraid of actually take place. You may notice that the scenarios you fear usually don’t happen.

    When embarrassing situations do happen, remind yourself that your feelings will pass, and you can handle them until they do.

    Yoga and other mind-body relaxation practices also may reduce anxiety and help you face situations that make you feel nervous.

Remember, it’s never too late to build new friendships or reconnect with old friends. Investing time in making friends and strengthening your friendships can pay off in better health and a brighter outlook for years to come.

Sept. 28, 2016

MLK Day 5K 2014- Join the I Will Survive Team!

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MLK Day 5K 2014
 
 

These organizations have created a Team for the MLK Day 5K. Click on each team name to learn more about them.
65ROSES – world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis
1027 Church – Our mission is to convert, grow, & serve the people of God as we LIVE life together
Andee’s Army – supporting children with brain injuries

Atlanta First United Methodist Church – Transforming lives by modeling Christ to the city and beyond

Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance – benefiting students and contributing to higher education
Back on My Feet – uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. 
Black Girls RUN! – an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners
Black Men Run – encourage health and wellness among African American men by promoting a culture of running to stay fit
Covenant Community – residential life-stabilization program for homeless men recovering from substance abuse
Creflo Dollar Global Missions – committed to equipping people all over the world with the knowledge and wisdom needed to make decisions that will positively impact their futures.
Dunwoody HS Math & Academic Team
Emory Health Against Human Trafficking – Rally to stop human trafficking!
Fit Neighborhood – South Atlanta’s only results driven group and personal training
Georgia Law Center for the Homeless – a law firm that represents homeless individuals and families in civil administrative and judicial proceedings, including evictions, family law issues, wage claims, access to benefits and more
Georgia Tech GO T.E.C.H. (TEAMS ENCOURAGING CAMPUS HEALTH) – increasing awareness of health and wellness activities on our campus
High Aspirations Foundation Inc. (HAFI)– foundation that focuses on efforts to retrieve grants and other monetary contributions to provide scholarships for graduating high school seniors and undergraduate students who attain high academic excellence in the Atlanta area
I Will Survive, Inc., – Our mission is to increase breast cancer awareness through education and provide funding in lower income communities.
Inman Middle School Eagles
Kilometer Kids – Join thousands of kids in this fun filled running program!!
Peachtree Rd. Boot Camp – old school, platoon style basic training
Running Warriors (NAHS CC&Track)
runningnerds – Group Runs, Clinics, Social Forums, Challenges, Accomplishments!! 
The Salvation Army Bellwood Keystone Club
SCAD Atlanta Athletics – 
Tin Lizzy’s – 
The FitWit Foundation –  Provides Free fitness programs that build strength and develop character for the young people who need it most.
Tomorrow’s Luminaries Foundation – works with underserved students to provide extraordinary opportunities in literacy and leadership
Woodstock Youth Track Club – Our Primary goal is to help create a life long appreciation for running.
Zulu Racing – We provide complete, professional, race timing services and race/event management
 

As persons become increasingly able to form loyalties, the practical and on-going devotion to a cause bigger than themselves, and as these loyalties become unifiable in the higher purposes of groups of persons over many generations, humanity is increasingly better able to recognize that the highest ideal is the creation of a perfected “beloved community” in which each and every person shares. – Josiah Royce

 

January 2014
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