October 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by Amelia Harnish
During one of her recent volunteer shifts at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, AnneMarie Ciccarella (right) visited a woman who was recovering from a mastectomy. “It was the same bed in the same room I woke up in six years ago to the day,” she says. “Stuff like that really gets to me: When are we going to figure this out? How can we end this?”
Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetime. This year, more than 220,000 American women will be diagnosed with it and 40,000 will die. When we met Ciccarella for our October issue story on breast cancer survivors, she said she’s so tired of hearing these numbers. We’ve got to find a way to stop breast cancer.
That’s where the Health of Women (HOW) study comes in, says Ciccarella, who serves as the New York volunteer team coordinator with the Love/Avon Army of Women. Launched by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, the Army of Women has been enrolling women in different research projects since 2008. Now the foundation is launching its own study to follow a huge group of women over time to learn why the disease develops. The key to all this? Your participation.
Why It’s Important
Many breast cancer patients have no known risk factors. So, does where you work or how much you sleep affect whether you will get breast cancer? Can anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen reduce breast cancer risk? These are the types of thing we want to understand better, and the larger the group of women we study, the more we can learn, says Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor and director of cancer etiology at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in Los Angeles, a partner in the study.
How It Works
After you answer a questionnaire about your health history, the HOW study will send you e-mails every three to four months when a new module becomes available. The questionnaires are co-created by epidemiologists, statisticians and breast cancer advocates, and participants will have the opportunity to submit questions they want answered, says Naz Sykes, executive director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.
The researchers want to follow women for 20 years or more. It’s a commitment, but the modules only take a few minutes to answer. All of your data will be stored in your account and in a database available to researchers—without your name attached.
Where To Sign Up
Go to HealthofWomenStudy.org and create an account. Then get your friends involved. The researchers want healthy women from every ethnicity, plus breast cancer survivors, women with other health issues and even men who’ve had breast cancer. I’ve already enrolled and I hope you will, too. Head to the study’s helpful FAQs page for more info.
Photo by Avery Powell
Categories: Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: AnneMarie Ciccarella, Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, City of Hope, Dr. Susan Love, Dr. Susan Love Foundation, Leslie Bernstein Ph.D, Love/Avon Army of Women, Prevention | 47 Comments
September 12, 2012 at 5:07 pm , by Amelia Harnish
If you sit all day long, you’re putting your health at risk—even if you exercise later, according to a growing pile of studies.
I’ll be the first to admit that when this started popping up again and again in the news recently, I ignored it every time. What am I supposed to do? Quit my job? I have to be at my desk! That’s why it was so refreshing to meet Anup Kanodia, M.D., assistant professor of Clinical Family Medicine at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. He gave me a much-needed crash course in why sitting is so bad and what you can do about it right now. (That’s me, right, after Dr. Kanodia revamped my cube so I could see how it felt to work standing up.)
LHJ: What goes wrong when we sit?
AK: The problem is that without even realizing it, we’re sitting way more than we should. Our bodies are built to sit around three hours a day. The average person now sits eight, maybe even 12 hours a day. There are a few reasons this is bad for you.
First, you’re burning fewer calories. When you sit you burn 100 calories an hour. When you stand, you burn on average 150 calories an hour simply because the muscles in your legs and core have to work to keep you upright. So when you’re sitting all the time, managing your weight is harder, especially if you have trouble finding time to exercise. But the studies also show that independent of exercise, sitting is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. So in other words, a half hour or an hour of exercise at the end of the day doesn’t make up for the damage done earlier in the day.
LHJ: Yikes! A lot of us spend so much of the workday with our butts in a chair. Where does standing start to makes a difference?
AK: It sounds too good to be true, but really every second of standing can make a difference. If you can get out of your chair every half an hour for a minute, you can burn 43 percent more energy throughout your day. And the reason this is so important is because of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which among other things, is responsible for converting your “bad” LDL cholesterol to “good” HDL cholesterol. After one hour of sitting, the production of this enzyme goes down 95 percent. But just getting out of your chair and moving a bit restarts it.
LHJ: Wow, that actually sounds doable.
AK: Yes, it adds up to only about 15 minutes a day. But it’s not the time that matters, it’s kick-starting that enzyme throughout the day. You can burn off a Starbucks latte, just by standing for 30 minutes. Now think of what you could do by standing for an hour or more a day!
Easy Ways To Get Off Your Butt
- In the mornings, park in the far lot to sneak in more walking.
- Set the timer on your phone to remind you to get up every half hour.
- Stand during every phone call.
- Drink more water. You’ll have to get up to pee eventually, right?
- Suggest standing or walking meetings.
- Get up while you read the paper or a long report.
September 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm , by Amelia Harnish
Dozens of your favorite celebrities are teaming up against cancer this Friday, September 7, 2012 for the third annual Stand Up 2 Cancer telecast. Will you be joining them?
A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow (who is the executive producer this year), Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Samuel L. Jackson, Emma Stone and more are set to appear during the commercial-free show, which starts at 8 p.m. on multiple networks. Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Alicia Keys and Tim McGraw will also be performing.
And if that’s not enough to grab your interest: stars will be manning the phones themselves.
Stand Up 2 Cancer has raised more than $180 million for cancer research since movie producer Laura Ziskin launched the organization in 2008. (That’s her, above, with Paltrow at the 2010 event.) Ziskin, who produced the Spider-Man movies, lived with breast cancer for seven years before it tragically took her life in June 2011.
Besides tuning in, here are more ways you can get involved and help make a difference:
Launch A Star
Unfortunately, we all know someone who’s been affected by cancer. You can launch a star in a loved one’s honor to The Constellation for a $1 donation or more.
Start Your Own Group
Inspired yet? Stand Up 2 Cancer isn’t just a telecast—it’s a movement! The goal is to fund collaborative research among top scientists to speed up the discovery of lifesaving treatments, and that takes year-round fund-raising. If you’d like to host your own events to raise money for Stand Up 2 Cancer, check out this grassroots toolkit and learn more about the “dream teams” the organization is currently funding.
Categories: Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Emma Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Laura Ziskin, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Samuel L. Jackson, Stand Up 2 Cancer, Stand Up 2 Cancer telecast, SU2C, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw | 3 Comments
August 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by Amelia Harnish
You may have already heard the scary news about West Nile: More than 1,000 people have reported symptoms of the virus and 41 have died, more cases than any year since the virus was first detected in 1999, according to the CDC. Enough to up the ante on your anti-mosquito efforts? I think so. But don’t panic. Most people won’t get sick, even if they get bit by a mosquito carrying the virus.
Aside from bug bites, there are a couple of other things to watch out for as you celebrate summer’s end this weekend. We’ve put together a little checklist to remind you about all three.
1. Buy some bug spray
This map shows the severity of the West Nile outbreak–every state save Vermont has seen some activity. Again, no reason to freak out, but you should know that people over 50 or those who have chronic conditions like kidney disease or diabetes are especially at risk. West Nile doesn’t spread via human contact. You can only get it from a mosquito bite, so a bottle of bug repellent can go a long way. Learn more about the best bug sprays and how to apply them here. It’s also a good idea to get rid of any standing water around your home and check your window screens for holes.
2. Wear sunscreen
It may not be all over the news, but the risk of sunburn (which can lead to skin cancers later on) is as real as ever. Dermatologists recommend sunscreens that have broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of 30. And to really get protection, you’ve got to slather it on thick like vanilla icing and re-apply every two hours. If you’re going to be outside all day, don’t forget to seek shade when you can and pack a wide-brimmed hat for extra protection.
3. Drink lots of water
This has been one of the hottest summers on record since 1950. Thankfully, things are cooling off a bit, but dehydration and other heat-related illnesses are still important to watch out for, especially in children and the elderly. On a normal day, a 150-pound woman has to drink 65 ounces of water to replace what’s lost through sweating, peeing and breathing. So if you’re sweating even a little, you should drink throughout the day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty! And remember, regular old water is your best bet.
Have a safe and fun Labor Day from the LHJHealthLadies!
August 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm , by Amelia Harnish
The past two weeks we’ve watched in awe as thousands of athletes competed in everything from track & field to judo in London. But why just sit back and watch? The Olympics can be a great motivator to help you get in shape, too.
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to push yourself to new heights of better health. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish. That’s what happened to Terri Gerrard, pictured above (yes, both of those are her). We met her while we were working on our August issue story on sensible weight-loss secrets from LHJ readers.
My jaw dropped when Terri sent us her before and after pictures. But what really impressed me was why she chose to compete (in a bikini, on stage) in a figure competition. It’s a lot like bodybuilding, she says, except the judges focus on muscle tone rather than muscle size. Read on for how she made changes and how you can get started.
July 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm , by Amelia Harnish
Every four years the summer Olympics return, giving us a chance to bask in stories of inspiring triumph. I remember when Kerri Strug stuck the landing on her injured ankle to win gymnastics gold for the “Magnificent Seven.” When Michael Phelps brought home 16 medals in swimming. And when Greg Louganis came out on top in diving despite a concussion. With the state of the world today, I’m looking forward to watching stories like those more than ever.
And this year, while we’re also marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX, women outnumber men on the U.S. Olympic team for the first time. How cool is that?
The U.S. women’s soccer team is opening the games with its first match against France today. While you may already be familiar with Hope Solo, the team’s charismatic goalkeeper, allow me to introduce you to defender Christie Rampone, team captain and mom to daughters Rylie and Reece (ages 6 and 2, with Rampone, right). As one of the fastest defenders in the world, she’s definitely one to watch. I chatted with Rampone to learn more about how she’s balancing being a mom and an elite athlete.
LHJ: You’re the only mom on the soccer team. Is it tough to fit in all your training and traveling while caring for young children?
CR: I’m on the road 200 days out of the year. I’m lucky because my husband Chris is a stay-at-home dad who helps manage my career. He takes care of Rylie when I’m on the road with Reece. Our rule is that we’re not going to be separated for more than two weeks, so Chris and Rylie will come to wherever we are if we’re going to be gone longer. It is stressful, but somehow we make it work. Read more
July 11, 2012 at 9:23 am , by Amelia Harnish
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a budding health writer, it’s that foods marketed as “healthy” need a very, very close look. Usually, things that are actually good don’t need an elaborate marketing plan to convince you. (This is why there’s no packaging in the fresh produce section.) Even some things that we all assume are perfectly healthy aren’t so good after all. That’s why we’ve put together this list of sneaky foods with the help of Marjorie Nolan, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
1. Coconut Water
We’ve been seeing coconut water everywhere recently, possibly because this summer’s record heat wave is ramping up everyone’s thirst. “Coconut water does have potassium and extra electrolytes in it, so it can be very hydrating. But it also comes with lots of sugar, which adds up fast, especially if you buy a big bottle with multiple servings,” says Nolan. The verdict: Fine for right after a sweaty workout, but most of the time your best bet is good old-fashioned water.
2. Flavored Fat-Free or Low-Fat Yogurt
Those creamy, fruity flavors must be good diet food, right? But the missing fat is often replaced with tons of sugar or else artificial sweeteners that can trick your body and set you up for more cravings later on. “If you save these as an after-dinner treat, they can work. But a lot of people think these are a great healthy snack or diet breakfast item, but they’re not going to make you feel full or help you lose weight in the long run,” Nolan says.
3. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranates are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods. But the juice? Not so much. “Most of the antioxidants are in the skin,” Nolan says. “The problem is that once you process the fruit, press it, bottle it and sell it, the benefits of the natural fruit are pretty much null and void.” The same goes for açai berry juice, which is being touted as a cure-all for arthritis, weight loss and more all over the Internet.
4. Granola bars
“Some granola bars are no different than candy bars,” Nolan says. While you may think you’ve found a perfectly delicious guilt-free snack, many are loaded with so much sugar or chocolate that it outweighs any benefits granola has on its own. She recommends looking for brands that have less than 12 grams of sugar per bar with at least 3 grams of fiber.
We almost had a mutiny at the LHJ office over this one. But for some people, bananas can aggravate symptoms of acid reflux and seem to stir up major gas and bloating, too. “Bananas are also really dense. They’re binding, so they can cause constipation,” Nolan adds.
Categories: Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, bananas, coconut water, fat-free yogurt, food myths, granola bars, low-fat yogurt, Marjorie Nolan, pomegranate juice, R.D. | 5 Comments