A Healthy Idyllwild: October 13, 2016

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By Callie Wight

Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult you own healthcare provider for any questions or issues concerning you own health status. 

Welcome back and thank you for reading this column on health and wellness self-management. Self-management is using smart information to make wise choices regarding the aspects of our physical and emotional health and wellness that we can influence and modify, even control.

Every October, our nation focuses special attention on Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness. For detailed info, vist www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/index; ww5.komen.org/; or www.nrcdv.org/dvam/home.

Focusing on breast cancer, here are a few basic facts. Breast cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most common cancer in women. Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women, but men do develop it.

Happily, death rates associated with this disease have been falling for 30 years. Medical experts believe this is due to early detection.

Women and men share some risk factors: aging; family history of breast cancer; and gene mutations, some of which are inherited but others may be linked to risky lifestyle factors.

But wait. Good news. Here is where our self-management comes in. Did you know that most cases of breast cancer are caused by the genetic changes that occur after we are born and which have to do with lifestyle factors?

And we can do something about those. Here’s the nitty-gritty.

Limit alcohol. This is clearly connected to risk reduction for breast cancer. Women should have no more than one drink a day. Two drinks a day for men. One drink is measured as 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. The more we drink the higher goes our risk.

Get and stay active. Limit sedentary behavior. The recommendations for physical activity suggest that adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, divided throughout the week. In other words, do at least some moderate to intense physical activity every day. (Check out September’s column for ideas on how to ease into activity).

One major study found that women who sit six hours per day dramatically increase their risks for a variety of cancers, including invasive breast cancer. So it’s not just getting to the gym or doing that power hike up Ernie Maxwell Trail. It is what we do with the rest of every day that matters, also. Basically, the message here is don’t sit too long.

Stay lean but at a healthy weight. Body fat seems to be linked to higher risks for breast cancer after menopause and for men as they age. And of course, the more active we are, the easier it is to manage weight.

Quit smoking. It’s not too late. Smoking is linked to many types of cancer, as well as pulmonary, heart and endocrine diseases. Your health (and your complexion) improve daily after quitting.

Self-manage and stay healthy.

Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in Psychology.

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