Avoid Plastics Because my Poodle Does

Avoiding Plastics because my Poodle Does

My poodle, Pepper, blogs sometimes. This summer as my husband, my poodle and I hiked around the Maritime Provinces in Canada, our friends following us on our blog frequently heard from Pepper about the long hikes, or the fact that his view from 8 inches off the ground was not nearly as spectacular as the vistas that we would talk about and show in our travel photos.   Believe me, Pepper has a way of making his opinions known.  He may only weight twelve pounds, but he has a big personality!

Pepper refuses to drink out of a plastic container unless he has absolutely no other choice and we have been on an incredibly long walk.  I have experimented with different color choices, different types of plastics and different environments.  It is interesting, my dog will put all sorts of unseemly things in his mouth during a walk, but will not drink water from a plastic container.

If my dog is that clear on the fact that plastic containers are not good, I think I am willing to listen to that.  In addition, Dr. Marissa Weiss and others talk specifically about the dangers of plastic as it relates to Breast Cancer risk.  As a survivor, I take whatever steps I can to reduce the risk of having to go on that particular journey again.  Here are some of the steps that I have taken to reduce the plastics in my life

  • Store food in glass containers
  • Never heat plastic in the microwave.
  • Use real plates.   For a party recently, we bought plates at the thrift shop – cheaper than plastic or paper, reusable, and a much more pleasant dining experience
  • At the grocery store, whenever possible, don’t put the produce in plastic bags.
  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods, in addition to all of their other benefits,  they are less likely to come wrapped in plastic
  • Buy beans, grains and other things in bulk.
  • Purchase a ceramic travel coffee mug and a glass (or at least a safe plastic, BPA free, reusable) water bottle.
  • Avoid water in plastic bottles when possible and definitely don’t leave them in your car throughout the summer.
  • Avoid personal care products with micro beads.

All of the evidence that I have read indicates that this is better for my health and it is also better for the environment. The data on the damage that plastic waste products are doing to our waterways and our food system is truly frightening.

But, back to Pepper.   He is wise about plastic, on the other hand, he will contentedly munch on grass treated with pesticides and herbicides.   I quickly pull him away from them.  But, it also caused me to stop using treatments on my lawn.  This is partially out of concern for Pepper and his pal Harry.  If I don’t want my dog cavorting in it and eating it, maybe I also do not want the residue in my house and my lungs?

Some steps to reduce the toxic load in our environment are difficult and complicated, but some are easy and straightforward.   It seems to me to make sense to start with the easy ones and then keep building from there.

Stage Two Breast Reconstruction Surgery (Revision Stage)

Breast reconstruction is usually performed in stages. A second surgery—referred to as the “revision stage”—is designed to improve the overall cosmetic appearance. This procedure is typically performed three months after the initial reconstruction as an outpatient procedure.

Watch below as PRMA patient Terri shares her experience with breast revision surgery after her DIEP flap in December.  More information on breast revision surgery can be found by clicking here or by reading below.

For flap based reconstruction, revision involves shaping the breasts and making them as symmetric as possible. Fat injections (fat grafting) can be used to address shape deformities and make the breasts look and feel more natural. The donor site scar (the scar from where the tissue was taken) is also revised to minimize its appearance as much as possible. Nipple reconstruction is also performed at this stage whenever possible if the patient did not have a nipple-sparing mastectomy.

For breasts reconstructed with tissue expanders, the tissue expanders are exchanged for permanent implants once breast volume is achieved with routine fills. Two types of breast implants are available to patients: Saline and Silicone. We advise that you speak with your plastic surgeon to decide which implant is best for you. Again, fat grafting can also be performed at this stage to improve the overall breast shape and make the results as natural as possible.

The PRMA surgeons also frequently perform revision surgery on women who are unhappy with results from surgery performed at other institutions. Please contact us here or call our office to schedule a consultation.

By: Minas Chrysopoulo

The Angelina Effect – 5 Common BRCA Gene Questions

1)What’s the scoop on the BRCA genes?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that can have mutations which may lead to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

2)How do I know if I should get tested?

Guidelines currently recommend screening for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations if you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer.  They also recommend screening for women who show early signs of developing cancer.

3)What should I do if I test positive?

Most importantly, do not panic!  Testing positive for the BRCA gene mutation does not mean you will get cancer.  Likewise, testing negative does not rule out your chances of cancer.  If results come back positive for mutations, you have taken your first step into a new journey.  Influenced by Angelina Jolie’s comment, “Knowledge is power,” this is a great starting point to gather information.  Educating yourself by consulting with physicians and joining support groups is important to fully understanding ALL of your options.

4)Does insurance cover preventative surgery if I test positive BRCA gene mutation?

If you test positive for the mutations, most insurances will cover preventative surgery.  The preventative surgeries may include the removal of breast tissue, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and your uterus.

5)What are my reconstruction options if I choose preventative mastectomies?

Breast reconstruction options for women who choose preventative surgery, such as aprophylactic double mastectomy, are the same as for women who have cancer.  Reconstructive surgery would be performed immediately after  breast tissue removal, allowing for optimal aesthetic results.  Women also have the added benefit of waking up with breasts.    Breast restoring surgeries include DIEP flapTUG flapGAP flap, and One-Step Implants.

A Healthful Approach to Weight Loss

For many people, weight loss is a challenge. Sure, it’s easy to drop a few pounds on a crash diet—but as you’ve likely discovered, this type of weight loss rarely lasts. Many people end up in a seemingly endless cycle of dieting/regaining weight/and dieting again. The side effect of this approach is that each time you diet, you lose muscle; and each time you regain weight, the muscle you lost is replaced with fat.

Developing A Healthy Relationship With Food

The first step in having a healthy relationship with food begins with your spirit, which connects with your mind (intelligence), emotions, and physical self. It’s important to consider your cultural heritage when choosing a diet, and to pay attention to choosing foods that are balanced and appealing in taste, smell, color, and texture. It’s essential to also consider the source; in other words, to choose fresh and wholesome foods from the earth, prepared with love and consumed with the intent to deeply nourish.


A Healthful Approach to Weight Loss


I counsel people to avoid extremes in life. The extremes of both self-indulgence and self-deprivation have equally harmful consequences for human life that results in a distortion that alienates and harms the spirit, which is ultimately what we live for.

We must find in every aspect of life an opportunity for growth through simplicity, charity, stability, prayer, common sense, study, hospitality, and love. Diet isn’t just about what we eat, it is also about when, why, where, who we eat with, and how we eat. To develop a healthy relationship with food, we must remember these four important guidelines: 1) balance, 2) moderation, 3) self-discipline, and 4) heartfelt joy.

On a physiological level, understanding the biological mechanisms behind weight gain is helpful for losing excess fat and achieving your optimal weight. I explain this in depth in my book, Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism: Elite Herbs and Natural Compounds for Mastering Stress, Aging, and Chronic Disease,” Healing Arts Press, 2013.

The following excerpt from my book offers a glimpse into the real cause of obesity, with a focus on abdominal obesity, the most common and health damaging type of fat:

Metabolic Syndrome, Hormones, and Abdominal Obesity

Hormones–the body’s chemical messengers–are increasingly being recognized as playing a primary role in whether an individual successfully maintains lean muscle mass or instead easily accumulates excess fat. In addition to the glucocorticoid hormones produced by the HPAT axis, hormones produced by the pancreas (insulin), ovaries (estrogen) and testes (testosterone) are key players in body composition.

In recent years, a particular constellation of physiological traits has become well known as metabolic syndrome (sometimes called syndrome X). The primary characteristics of metabolic syndrome are abdominal obesity, cholesterol abnormalities (high triglycerides and low HDL), hypertension, and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance refers to the decreased ability of cells to respond to insulin, which means that blood glucose is not able to enter cells. While cells starve for energy, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, triggering the release of even more insulin. This causes the body to store all available calories as fat, even when dieting. A variety of chronic diseases are associated with metabolic syndrome, most notably, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, many forms of cancer, such as breast, colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancer are linked to metabolic syndrome.

The vast majority of people suffering from metabolic syndrome are overweight and sedentary. It’s important to note, however, that while obesity is the greatest risk factor for developing metabolic syndrome, eating a diet high in carbohydrates and not getting enough exercise can cause metabolic syndrome even in people of normal weight.

The sex hormones estrogen and testosterone have also been garnering attention for the role they play in body composition. Researchers have noted that men who have metabolic syndrome are also likely to have low testosterone levels. This relationship, referred to as the hypogonadal/obesity cycle, appears to be initiated by low testosterone levels, which cause an increase in abdominal fat. This sets off a chain of events that begins with increased aromatase activity, which leads to increased conversion of testosterone to estradiol, and further reduces testosterone levels and increases the accumulation of abdominal fat. This results in a variety of health problems ranging from cholesterol abnormalities, low energy and memory difficulties to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and prostate cancer.Maintaining healthy testosterone levels is critical for maintaining lean muscle mass and avoiding excess fat gain.

Women also suffer the fattening effects of hormonal imbalances, which vary according to her stage in life. Too much estrogen causes water retention, most notably in the abdominal area. This bloating is most noticeable in the menstrual cycle when progesterone levels drop and estrogen levels increase, triggering menstruation. As women age and enter perimenopause, progesterone levels decrease and estrogen dominates, and bloating can become a constant issue. After menopause, most women find that excess weight easily accumulates, particularly in the abdominal area. This is because when the ovaries shut down their production of estrogen, secondary production sites such as body fat take over the job of supplying estrogen, and the body wants to hold on to this resource. Balancing hormones is an essential component of losing excess fat and building lean muscle. It likely comes as no surprise that instead of hormone replacement, I recommend a lifestyle approach that includes specific herbs and supplements to support hormonal balance. (For more information on my approach to balancing hormones, see my posts on Optimizing Hormones Naturally Versus Hormone Replacement Therapies: Part I and Botanical Hormone Support, Part II.) 

For healthy weight loss, I recommend the following delicious smoothie as a nourishing replacement for breakfast or lunch. Rich in a variety of protective phytonutrients, muscle building protein, and healthful fats, this smoothie is a meal in a glass.

Meal Replacement Smoothie

  • Whole foods multi-vitamin and mineral smoothie mix: 1 scoop
  • Undenatured whey powder: 1 scoop
  • Fish oil and essential fatty acid blend: 1 tsp.
  • Powdered blend of antioxidant botanicals: ½ tsp.
  • Sea vegetable blend: ½ tsp.
  • Coconut milk powder: 1 tbls.
  • Fruit anthocyanins: 1 tsp.
  • Yogurt (whole milk, sheep, goat, or organic Greek cow): 1 cup
  • Pomegranate juice: 2 oz.
  • Organic peach or apricot juice: 2 oz.
  • Frozen or fresh berries or mangos: 3 oz.
  • 1 tsp. honey: optional

By Donnie Yance

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Serves 1.

7 Ways To Manage Lymphedema

I am often asked how I manage my lymphedema well here it is:

  1. I live by the 80/20 rule. As long as I take care of myself 80% of the time, I feel like I’m doing pretty good. By living by the 80/20 rule I can let myself off the hook when I cheat and it makes it pretty easy to get back to it

  2. I eat healthy most of the time, mainly whole organic foods

  3. I juice pretty much every day

  4. I sweat almost every day to clear my head (walking is all it takes)

  5. I swim at least 4 times a week and do at least 10 deep dives when I go

  6. I wear my Active Massage compression pretty much all the time

  7. When I can, I go for MLD (LOVE IT!!!)

That’s it. No magic. I came about my routine through a lot of trial and error and an understanding of what I was willing to do. Just start where you can, it really is that simple.

Sue Callison Solidea Medical

Sue Callison of Solidea Medical

What is the role of Diet and Nutrition

The role of nutrition during the treatment of cancer is to keep your immune system thriving and your body healthy enough to keep fighting. It is a very individualized goal, depending on your treatment, side effects and your preferences. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery all have different ways that they effect people’s bodies and side effects may keep you from eating a balanced diet.

Benefits of proper nutrition during treatment include: (from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/nutritionforpeoplewithcancer/nutritionforthepersonwithcancer/nutrition-during-treatment-benefits)

  • Feeling better
  • Keeping up your strength and energy
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and your body’s store of nutrients
  • Better able to tolerate treatment-related side effects
  • Lowering your risk of infection
  • Healing and recovering faster

Managing Nutrition Related Side Effects:

First and foremost, during treamtnet it is important to ensure you are getting enough calories and protein. Without enough nutrients, your immune system can weaken and allow for other illness to occur.  Therefore, when you are facing challenges with poor appetite or not feeling like eating, remember that there are no off limits foods. You eat whatever you can tolerate.Some recommendations that may help during days of you not wanting to eat are:

  • To help remove bad tastes, rinse your mouth before eating with a solution made of 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and 1 quart of warm or cool water.
  • Bland foods and foods served cool or at room temperature may be easier to eat than hot and spicy foods.
  • Sip fruit juices, sports drinks, or flat soda throughout the day.
  • Consume ensure or boost like beverages
  • Eat larger meals when you want to eat
When You’re Feeling Well
For many women facing breast cancer, side effects do not cause any change in their ability to eat. In this case, it is important to eat take a plant-based approach to healthy eating, in combination with being physically active.

Plant foods contain natural health-promoting nutrients called phytochemicals, which are the basis for a cancer fighting diet. Physical activity is important even as you’re going through treatment as it helps to fight fatigue and prevent muscle loss.

Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Eat some meatless meals each week, substituting legumes (dried beans and peas) for meat.
- Eat colorful fruits or veggies at least 5 times a day.
- Include high fiber foods each day, including legumes, whole grain breads and cereals.
- Consume beverages that don’t add a lot of simple sugars. Water is the one of the most affordable “health foods” around!

Eat Your Greens!

One of the loneliest parts of the produce section is the area where they pile up the greens– kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens and the like. Not that many people know how to cook them, and fewer actually know why they should. However, these humble and inexpensive foods pack an enormous amount of vital nutrients into just a few calories, and should be a regular part of everyone’s diets.

Kale is in the same family as broccoli and cabbage, and shares many of the same health benefits. The organosulfur compounds found in kale act as anticancer agents by activating detoxifying enzymes in the liver that neutralize potential carcinogens. They have specifically been shown to stop the growth of breast cancer cells. Kale also protects against cataracts, due to lutein’s ability to protect against damage from uv light. Vitamin A is also very abundant in kale; it has been shown to help prevent emphysema from smoking or being around second hand smoke. Continue reading

Save Someone’s Life: Make This Cancer Fighting Recipe

I remember seeing a patient over 20 years ago. She was only in her 50’s and she dying from cervical cancer, a cancer that I rarely see anymore because most women in my practice get regular PAP smears. She had never gone for regular PAP smears, so by the time her cancer was discovered, it was very advanced. Cervical cancer is really a preventable cancer. In fact according to the World Health Organization, over 40% of all cancers are preventable if we change our lifestyle and get appropriate screenings.

No woman should ever suffer cervical cancer again. For women who do not have access to health screenings, I support and am on the Advisory Board of Fran Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer Foundation which provides disadvantaged women with full women’s health exams by taking the services into their neighborhoods in mobile clinics on wheels. There is really no excuse.

Take Action: Last week I asked you to schedule your own annual exams. If you have not done so, get it done!! And this week I am asking you to reach out to three women young or old and remind them of the lifesaving importance of screening for cervical cancer. (And of course while you are at it you can get a breast exam and a pelvic exam that also looks at your ovaries and uterus, sites of all too common women’s cancers.) Be sure to ask for a COMPLETE women’s health exam.

Cancer Fighting Super Foods: Kale and Broccoli to the Rescue 

There has been extensive research on the impact of eating cabbage family vegetables and the prevention of women’s cancers. The most powerful foods in this family are lightly steamed kale, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, all of which have high concentrations of sulphoraphanes, the plant chemicals that are responsible for outsmarting cancers at every stage from the development of cancer to the growth and progression of cancers, especially hormonal cancers that are fueled by estrogen. These cancers include the most common cancers in women: breast, ovarian, uterine, cervical, colon and lung cancers are all effected by estrogen. And by the way, the valuable phytochemicals in your kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower are actually MORE available when lightly steamed than when raw.

And in men, even prostate cancer is linked to estrogen’s effects. So eat up guys!

Try Kale and Persimmon Salad with Pecan Dijon Vinaigrette!

What can you do??

Take action: eat something from the cabbage family 3-5 times each week (every day if you can!!). See the super yummy recipe I have included below and lots more on our website in the recipe section.

If you know you won’t really eat 3-7 servings of cabbage family vegetables every week, consider using concentrated sulphoraphanes supplements such as Broccoprotect. Just 2 caps daily are great for supporting normal estrogen detoxification and enhancing inflammation control.


By Dr Nalini Chilkov