How harnessing fat cells could help in battle against breast cancer

The research points to exercise — which has none of the harmful side-effects of many cancer drugs — as being a potentially beneficial therapy in some breast cancer patients


jogger-1435341New research led by York University Professor Michael Connor highlights how fat cells could help determine the most effective way to fight breast cancer; including using exercise to combat the disease.

Previously, adipose tissue (body fat) was thought of as a storage form of energy. However, fat cells are now understood to be active cells that produce more than 400 adipokines (hormones) which eventually end up in the blood and make their way around the body. Connor and his research team set out to determine whether the hormones found in body fat can account for the observed association between obesity and breast cancer.

“Our research has found that the characteristics of hormones produced by fat cells in obese people can promote breast cancer growth, whereas in lean people it prevents growth,” said Connor. “The characteristics of those hormones differ depending on whether the person is lean or obese and that determines whether the cancer grows or not.”

Using a rodent model, Connor and his team looked at whether the fat cells play a role in the link between obesity and breast cancer, and whether interventions targeted at obesity counteract any of the life-threatening effects of breast cancer.

The research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology points to exercise — which has none of the harmful side-effects of many cancer drugs — as being a potentially beneficial therapy in some breast cancer patients.

“Our study shows that voluntary and rigorous exercise can counteract, and even completely prevent the effects on cancer growth that are caused by obesity. We also show that even moderate exercise can lead to slowing of breast cancer growth and that the more exercise you do, the greater the benefit.” said Connor.

For nearly a half century, researchers have studied the links between obesity and breast cancer. This recent study has revealed specifically that adiponectin and leptin are possible reasons for poorer response to therapy and higher risk of death in obese persons than in others.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Women with demanding jobs at high risk for major health issues

Work weeks that averaged 60 hours or more over three decades appear to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women, according to new research from The Ohio State University.
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New research from The Ohio State University indicates that women whose work weeks averaged 60 hours or more over three decades appear to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women.

The risk begins to climb when women put in more than 40 hours and takes a decidedly bad turn above 50 hours, researchers found.

“Women — especially women who have to juggle multiple roles — feel the effects of intensive work experiences and that can set the table for a variety of illnesses and disability,” said Allard Dembe, professor of health services management and policy and lead author of the study, published online this week in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Read the full story here …

Migraines may increase risk of stroke, heart disease

Women who suffer from migraine headaches may have a slightly increased risk of heart disease or stroke, a new study suggests.

“Migraine should be considered a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, at least in women,” said lead researcher Dr. Tobias Kurth, director of the Institute of Public Health at Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Berlin, Germany.

But, Kurth cautioned that this study can’t prove that migraines cause heart attack or stroke, only that they may make these events more likely. Read the full story here …

New studies point out that Heart Health and Fitness are important factors for menopausal women

Helping to increase awareness and save lives, the Women’s OBGYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa reveals how women can take an active role to insure long term heart health

Bicycle on the BeachA University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study has shown that late-stage and post-menopausal women may have significantly greater volumes of fat around their hearts — a risk factor for heart disease — than their pre-menopausal counterparts. “Some patients are surprised to learn that heart disease is the number one killer of women,” says Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lela Emad, M.D. “Heart disease takes far more lives each year than both breast cancer and cervical cancer combined. We have long understood that the risk factors only increase after the age of 50. This study helps to highlight exactly why this may be the case.”

The Pittsburg Graduate School study, which will appear in the Sept. 1 issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, says the increased incident of fat around the heart in menopausal women is attributable to changing hormone levels – a discovery that may help to guide potentially life-saving interventions going forward.

The study specifically revealed that as concentrations of the sex hormone estradiol (a type of estrogen) declined during menopause, greater volumes of corresponding cardiovascular fat were discovered. “Regardless of age and fitness level, women should be taking measures in everyday life to maximize heart health,” says Dr. Emad. “But this study helps to point out the particular importance fitness and exercise can play for women over 50, something we routinely discuss with our patients.”

Menopause and Weight Gain

Weight gain in women during and after menopause has long been associated with the aging process, but until now, menopause hasn’t been shown to be the smoking gun in this process. This study, and others like it, is helping to identify how changes in body fat composition can affect the distribution of fat due to menopause-related hormonal fluctuations. Increased and excess fat around the heart can lead to localized inflammation, which is even more damaging than abdominal fat, as it leads to heart disease and a more than 50 percent increase in coronary events.

In another study recently highlighted in JAMA Oncology, exercising 300 minutes per week (about 45 minutes per day) was shown to be the best tactic to take for reducing total fat in postmenopausal women. Weight gain is common after menopause but as many as 30 percent of women ages 50 to 59 are not just overweight, they are obese. The loss of estrogen has long been thought to cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which may indeed increase fat storage and make it harder for women of a menopausal age to lose weight. Adopting a more active lifestyle is the best form of prevention.

Aerobic exercise is most frequently recommended for weight loss and prevention, and may be the key in helping women to get back to a healthy weight, as well as maintaining optimal levels over time. Types of aerobic exercise commonly recommended for heart health include:

• walking
• jogging
• swimming
• cycling
• aerobic dance

The benefits of aerobic exercise are readily evident as a National Institutes of Health review revealed that people who took part in aerobic activities every day for a minimum of 10 minutes had as many as six fewer inches around the waistline, compared to people who didn’t exercise at all. A regular routine of aerobic activity can help lower the risk of many menopausal symptoms including osteoporosis, breast (and other types of) cancer as well as provide relief of depression and anxiety.

“Lifestyle changes such as exercising, dieting, quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine are all examples of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart,” says Dr. Emad. “Fitness is a factor for women of all ages, and even more significant for those entering menopause.”

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit our website.

The Women’s OBGYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa Kicks Off 2015 with “Good to Be You”

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A look at how to get healthy and stay healthy for life – The Women’s OBGYN Medical Group invites women everywhere to become involved in the Good To Be You program and create a condition of optimal health and balance in life – discover that it is Good to Be You!

Life expectancy in the U.S. is at an all-time high, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last October. While the average expected age is now just under 79 years for both men and women, a female baby born in 2012 can now expect to live to 81.2 years, that’s almost 5 years longer than a male born the same year, who can expect to live just over 76 years. Knowing that we, as women can expect to live a full eight decades – barring accidents or major health issues, it’s a pretty good idea to adopt healthy habits as early in life as possible. A look at the trends to better health reveals that there are some very simple ways to optimize health, and make life worth living.

Living with a Healthy Heart

Some women are surprised to learn that heart disease is the number one killer of women, taking far more lives each year than breast cancer and cervical cancer combined. Regardless of age and fitness level, taking measures to maximize heart health is one of the most important things women can do to stay healthy. While routine preventative care can help, lifestyle changes such as exercising, dieting, and quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine are all examples of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart.

Eating For Health

According to a 2011 study by Lancet, Japanese women can expect to live longer than most other women in the world, and experts believe it might have something to do with diet. The average Japanese diet consists of fish, seaweed, and lots of vegetables. The fact that they eat so much fish means they naturally enjoy high dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids which is associated with many health benefits.

Including fresh vegetables in the diet is one of the simplest choices to make to improve overall healthfulness. A vegetable-rich diet is believed to help protect the body from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia and a variety of cancers – and it might also slow down the aging process. In fact, one recent study found that people who consume at least seven portions of fresh vegetables and fruit each day have a whopping 42 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who eat one portion or less. Additional dietary considerations to make include;

  • Studies also reveal that eating dark chocolate in moderation (two servings per week) is associated with a lower risk of heart failure.
  • People who eat nuts significantly reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung diseases, and others. In fact, people who consume nuts as part of their daily diet were 20 percent healthier than non-nut-eaters according to at least one study.
  • In a review of 24 studies, researchers found that women with low-to-moderate alcohol consumption had a lower risk of all-cause mortality (moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink per day for women).

Boost your happiness quotient

The happiest people are three times less likely to die over a given period than the least happy people, according to a 2012 study. It’s not just about attitude either, as happy people have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and they seem to have lower blood pressure which lessens the threat of cardiovascular issues such as heart disease and stroke.

According to a 2010 study at Brigham Young University friends are also part of the happiness equals long life factor as people with strong social connections are reported to have a 50 percent lower chance of untimely death than those with few social ties. Research shows that strong partnerships can also help people avoid illness.

A strong (emotionally supportive) partnership is also apparently helpful when it comes to adopting healthier habits, which of course leads to living healthier longer. Although we might think that intimacy is the key to a happy partnership, sex isn’t the only type of physical contact that can lower stress and improve health. In a 2004 study conducted by the University of North Carolina researchers discovered that both men and women had higher blood levels of oxytocin—a hormone believed to ease stress and improve mood—following a simple hug. The women in particular, had lower blood pressure after receiving a hug and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Ditch Bad Habits

Habits can actually be beneficial to overall health, because they’re automatic and they don’t require a whole lot of thinking, which frees our brains up to focus on other things. Good habits, like being punctual or maintaining a sense of optimism, or being courteous, or getting enough sleep and maintaining an exercise routine can provide motivation for healthy living. However, bad habits can also happen without thinking and can be damaging to health and increase stress, all without us being aware of them. Some of the basic bad habits that can be changed to increase overall well-being may include;

  • eating junk food
  • procrastinating
  • overspending
  • being late
  • staying up to watch TV or to play on the computer

There is one bad habit that has a very negative impact on health and that’s smoking. Never starting this habit is the best route to take but even long time smokers can benefit from ditching the habit as research finds that women who quit before age 40 live as much as a decade longer than those who quit later on.

Exercise – Get Moving!

Sitting for prolonged periods at a desk or in front of the computer may be necessary for many people’s livelihood, but it’s not good for the body. Research shows that women who sit for more than six hours a day have a 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause than those women who sit for fewer than three hours—regardless of their fitness levels.

Exercise is hands-down one of the best things women can do to improve health. Exercise keeps the body fit, increases energy and releases endorphins—which in turn increases the happiness quotient. A number of studies indicate that staying active is associated with a longer life expectancy.

We might think that a “real” workout needs to be strenuous. But the fact is that simply walking, running, biking or swimming are all activities that are extremely beneficial to overall healthfulness. Just 2.5 hours weekly (about 20 minutes a day) of moderate aerobic exercise such as walking provides all the major health benefits a body needs to stay healthy.

Breast Health

Routine breast exams and general awareness of how to maintain breast health are important elements in living a healthy lifestyle for women. Screening methods such as regular self-breast exams, breast checks during routine gynecologic exams, and screening mammographies can all help to detect breast problems early-on. Early treatment of breast problems can contribute to the success of any treatment that is needed.

Self-check breast exams are easy to perform in the home and should be conducted monthly in addition to annual breast exams with your physician at Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group. Depending on your age and individual health, your physician may recommend a more frequent interval of regular check-ups with your health care provider.

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit our website.