Saturday, October 18, 2008
While doing some research on the net regarding the benefits of exercise on the lymph system, I came across some startling claims that just knocked my socks off or at least my bra anyway. That wearing a bra causes cancer! Yikes, immediately I thought this has to be nonsense, but I had to look further into it.
Indeed, it does appear that a large number of health enthusiasts do believe that one of the causes for the high increase in breast cancer in western women is because they wear bras and they present some scary stats it seems based on research made by a husband and wife team - The Singers - in 1995:
-that if you wear a bra for 24 hrs./day, your chances of getting breast cancer are 75% (or 3 out of 4)
-that if you wear a bra for over 12 hrs./day, but not to bed, your chances of getting breast cancer is 14.28% (or 1 out of 7)
-that if you wear a bra for less than 12 hrs/day, your chances of getting breast cancer is 00.66% (1 out of 152)
-that if you wear a bra rarely or not at all, your chances of getting breast cancer is 00.60% (1 out of 168)
They state that wearing a bra all day compresses the lymphatic system of the breast, resulting in accumulation of toxins that cause breast cancer. Their conclusions were based on a 30-mon. study of 4,000 women in the U.S.
Based on this study, they recommended that "women who want to avoid breast cancer should wear a bra for the shortest period of time possible certainly for less than 12 hours daily." And they claimed that "80% of bra-wearers who experience lumps, cysts and tenderness will see those symptoms vanish, "within a month of getting rid of the bra."
Mmmmmmm, now most women I know wear bras during most of the day so are we all at risk? So what does the American Cancer Society say about all of this (especially since apparently there is an email circulating about this scare)????
Here's their response found at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/MED/content/
"There are no scientifically valid studies that show wearing bras of any type causes breast cancer. The email appears to be based on the writings of a husband and wife team of medical anthropologists who link breast cancer to wearing a bra. The two anthropologists suggested this association in a book called Dressed to Kill. Their study was not conducted according to standard principles of epidemiological research and did not take into consideration other variables, including known risk factors for breast cancer.
We know of only one scientifically-conducted epidemiologic study that investigated a possible link between bra use and breast cancer. This study suggested that breast cancer might be less common among women who do not wear bras than among bra wearers. However, breast cancer risk in the two groups was not significantly different, according to standard statistical criteria, and the researchers themselves expressed uncertainty regarding this correlation. They also noted that if there is any connection, it would most likely have occurred indirectly, because women who are obese or have larger breasts are less likely to go braless. Obesity has been identified by numerous studies as a breast cancer risk factor, and having large breasts has been suggested in some studies as increasing breast cancer risk for young women who are not overweight.
We do not know of any epidemiologic studies published in scientific journals that suggest bras directly contribute to breast cancer risk or that lymphatic compression by bras might cause breast cancer.
Regardless of the size of a woman's breast and whether she is slim or heavy, there is no convincing epidemiologic evidence that her choices regarding bra use will influence her breast cancer risk. Furthermore, the alleged mechanism suggested in the book and in chain e-mails (blocked lymphatic vessels causing toxins to accumulate) is inconsistent with scientific concepts of breast physiology and pathology."
Well there you go - a little more controversy. Health enthusiasts recognize the Singer study and the American Cancer Society does not. So I guess I have to draw my own conclusions as I sit here typing this blog braless.
One site recommended that if you must wear a bra, " Push-up and sports bras are out. Choose loose-fitting cotton bras. Make sure you can slip two fingers under the shoulder-straps and side-panels. The higher the side-panels, the more severe the restriction of major lymph nodes. Don't wear this disastrous device to sleep. Take it off at home. Massage your breasts every time you remove your bra. Sing your lymphatics into health -- or at least breathe deeply." Sounds like good advice for everyone no matter what side you take in this controversy!
Take it for what you will. I think we have to be very careful what we read on the net as well as claims made in those scary emails we all regularly receive and not accept everything we read as being the "truth", but look at the sources and check whether the results are based on "recognized" clinical studies or not. All too often assumptions are made that everything on the net and in emails is the gospel truth, so to speak, while it very well may not be!!!!!
So for me - well, it feels good not to wear a bra and I do wear one as little as possible, but absolutely when in public do and will continue to wear one - I'm just two embarrassed for anyone to see how far south my breasts hang - those perky full globes died a long time ago! So I think I'll continue to have a "balanced approach" and definitely not wear one to bed (too darn uncomfortable anyway!)
P.S. In 2013, there appears to still be no real scientific evidence to indicate that wearing a bra causes cancer. See:
Look to the source of who is making these claims and whether there is any real scientific studies to back up such claims.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
"Moving More ... Eating Less" is my mantra and I have to keep it in front of me all the time because I can very easily become a couch potato watching TV. That's why when I heard about the Mayo Clinic's NEAT program I perked up.
Now as we know, there are two ways to burn calories - working out and/or daily living activities - and according to studies done at the Mayo Clinic, NEAT is likely more important for calorie burning than exercise for just about everyone.
NEAT stands for "non-exercise activity thermogenesis", but just exactly what is it?
I always remember my Mom telling my sisters and me not to fidget, it seemed we just couldn't sit still, but eventually we "learned to be ladies" and "settled down". This probably was not a good thing because it seems that Mom was suppressing our spontaneous physical activity or Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).
And that's it pretty much in a nutshell - NEAT is any energy expended for anything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise! Any motion such as wiggling, walking, tapping or jiggling our feet, shopping, dancing, cleaning chores, playing a musical instrument, etc. all boost our NEAT and may be a huge factor in determining who is lean and who is obese.
When we say we have a slow metabolism what we probably mean is we have low-NEAT. But we can jog our low-NEAT by just moving more ... any fidgeting counts - instead of sitting while talking on the phone, stand up and move back and forth; while sitting at the computer swing our feet & legs back and forth, chopping veggies standing up instead of buying precuts is cheaper and heats up our NEAT, use the remote less and get up to change channels manually , etc. I actually find it fun to think of more ways in which I can "move" throughout my day. And typing this blog - is a NEAT activity - alright!!
The point is to pay more attention to our daily movements. If you find yourself sitting still, DO SOMETHING. The more you do it, the more of a habit it will become, and we'll all be burning more calories in no time.
Now obviously this is a very simplified explanation of a very complex scientific process and barely touches on why it is so effective, but it makes sense to me. And there's more truth to my mantra than I initially realized - "Moving More ... Eating Less" - is indeed a recipe for success!!!
Thursday, October 02, 2008
An ancient Chinese proverb states, "Better be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one." Now, I don't know that I would go that far, but I do know that I'm "a green tea granny nanny".
No one thing is a magic pill for all that ails us, but if there was one, green tea could be it - the Chinese have been using green tea as a medicine for over 4,000 years. There's been lots of info in the news about the benefits of drinking teas - and of all the teas, green, black & white, it appears that green tea is the superstar of them all.
Now most teas come from the leaves of the same bush - camellia sinensis - but the benefits of each kind of tea depend upon when and where the leaves are harvested and how their properties are brewed or extracted. To make green tea, the young leaves of the camellia sinensis are harvested, then steamed, dried and rolled.
All tea from the camellia sinensis family contain catechins - antioxidants that protect cells in the body from oxidative damage that may lead to cancers. Because green tea goes through less processing than other tea types, it contains a higher amount of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) - a specific kind of catechin.
And it is this EGCG that is at the heart of many of the studies researching green tea's potential health benefits - a few being:
- helping maintain a healthy weight (helps burn calories more effectively & decreases body fat)
- slowing the growth of some cancers and lower the risks of others
- reducing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease & ulcerative colitis
- reducing the risks /effects of cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol levels, high blood pressure & slow build up of plaque
It's unlikely that most people drink enough of green tea to get the same results as the amounts used in studies, but it was found that people who drank 5 cups/day (one cup of green tea provides 20-35 mg of EGCG) that their risks of cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer were lowered. However, it is thought that even drinking 1 or 2 cups/day may give some benefits.
I average 2 - 3 cups/day. Spreading drinking the cups of tea over the day is suggested to get the best benefits.
It's recommended that when choosing which green tea to buy - your nose knows. If it smells delicious it will usually taste that way when brewed. I prefer the flavoured varieties: Earl Grey, jasmine, ginger, pomegranate, blueberry & goji to name a few.
-Use 1 bag (or 2 - 4 grams) per cup
-After boiling cold water, let is stand for 3 mins.
-Pour hot water over the tea & let it steep for at least 3 min. & then enjoy.
I actually add a bit of skim milk to mine, but I've read many conflicting studies about whether this inhibits the benefits of the antioxidants or not - some say yeh and some say nay. I just prefer the flavour with a bit of milk because that's ultimately why I drink it. I like the taste, it gets more water into my system, makes my tummy feel more full and I just find it comforting to enjoy a "cuppa"! Cheers!!!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
That's what I did last Saturday night at a wedding. I danced my heart out and I'm still sore from it LOL!
I've always loved to dance & feel so carefree and light when I'm doing it so why don't I do it more often? One of my favourite mantras is "Moving More ... Eating Less" and dancing would definitely help me live up to it.
Dancing is so good for us for many reasons. Yup, I know it's a great form of exercise & because it's weightbearing it helps strengthen bones, which, of course, becomes more important as we age.
The Mayo Clinic reports that dancing helps
- Reduce stress
- Increase energy
- Improve strength
- Increase muscle tone and coordination
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says that dancing can:
- Lower your risk of coronary heart disease
- Decrease blood pressure
- Help you manage your weight
- Strengthen the bones of your legs and hips
All great reasons to dance more, but I didn't know that it improves blood flow to the brain (now I could definitely use more of that!) In fact, a 21 year study completed in 2003 at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that dancing helps prevent dementia - Alzheimer's & vascular dementia (the #2 form of dementia after Alzheimer's).
Dr. Verghese of the college stated that "dancing may be a triple benefit for the brain. Not only does the physical aspect of dancing increase blood flow to the brain, but also the social aspect of the activity leads to less stress, depression and loneliness. Further, dancing requires memorizing steps and working with a partner, both of which provide mental challenges that are crucial for brain health."
Sounds like I definitely should crank up the tunes and start "moving & grooving" more often - for lots of reasons!!!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I'm not an exercise fanatic by any means, but I find it difficult to take a break from it. It's not that I love to exercise, it's just that I feel so darn good about myself afterwards, that I've done something really good for "me" similar to eating a very nutritious meal. So for me today is a hard day to take - a "rest" day from exercise - no cardio, no strengthening exercises, nada, I didn't even do any "light" activities.
My body feels fine - yes, I have arthritic aches and pains, but nothing from doing too much or overtraining. Nevertheless, most exercise experts recommend taking an occasional day off from all activity - some suggest 1 - 2 days per week. They advise that exercise causes microtrauma to muscles and that it's during rest that they not only repair themselves, but they become stronger as well. Apparently, if proper rest & recovery time is not taken that they become weaker, more prone to injury and over time become less efficient in doing the work we want and need them to do.
Experts advise that we shouldn't wait until we feel sore from exercising and that skipping rest days is the most common cause of overtraining injuries. It is true that after I've taken a day or two off that I do feel refreshed and re-energized and my workouts do seem more effective. So I guess I just have to remember that "more isn't necessarily best" and that I'm being kind to myself by taking my "rest" day. Now I just wish SparkPeople would award SparkPoints for taking a day off LOL!!!
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