You Docs: Walking reduces risk of breast cancer

11/05/2013 7:04 AM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

Walk-a-thons are major fundraisers for many charities, and breast cancer research and development is one of the top beneficiaries of this popular and increasingly star-studded activity. Just ask breast cancer survivors and fundraising veterans Sheryl Crow, Edie Falco, Cynthia Nixon and Robin Roberts, who have helped various breast cancer organizations raise millions of dollars. From 2003 to 2011, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer raised more than $420 million. But the icing on the cake is that the act of walking itself actually reduces your risk of developing breast cancer.

A recent American Cancer Society study looked at 73,000 women over the course of 17 years and found that, whatever your weight, walking about three miles in 60 minutes every day is solidly linked to lower breast cancer rates.

We say do it five to seven days a week, and aim for 10,000 steps a day. And as you go farther and get stronger, pick up the pace. Stride out for three hours a week, and you moderately reduce your risk; hoof it seven hours a week, and you slash the risk of breast cancer by 14 percent compared with those who walk three hours or less a week. But here’s our favorite: If you start out walking seven hours a week and then ramp up your activity level so that you’re really breaking a sweat with fast walking, aerobics, running or dancing, you cut your breast cancer risk by an astounding 25 percent.

‘Masters of Sex’

In the opening episode of “Masters of Sex,” the new series detailing the research and personal life of 1950s sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, Masters tells an uninhibited study subject: “Think of yourself as Sir Edmund Hillary leaving base camp.”

Since then, we’ve learned a lot about what makes sparks fly and what dampens desire:

• A couple of drinks may loosen you up, but alcohol can dehydrate, and that dampens orgasms for women and men.
• You may gobble bar food on date night, but what you need to keep blood flowing and to reduce inflammation (which can cause aches and pains that make intimacy difficult) is nutrition and muscle power. So take half a multivitamin twice a day, 900 IU of DHA fish or algal oil daily and eat foods that deliver the recommended daily allowance for 19- to 50-year-olds of calcium (1,000 mg), magnesium (310-400 mg) and zinc (8-11 mg). And keep blood vessels flexible by taking 10,000 steps a day and getting 30 minutes a week of resistance exercises.

Beware endorsements

Children ages 12-17 are the No. 1 viewers of athlete-sponsored food commercials. So what are top sports figures selling this impressionable audience? Mostly junk. In 2010, nearly 80 percent of athlete-endorsed food products were energy-dense and nutrient-poor – and more than 93 percent of athlete-endorsed beverages got 100 percent of their calories from added sugar.

If you wonder why people who value physical health above all else would push disease-causing foods to kids, well, the facts speak for themselves.

In 2010, Maria Sharapova raked in millions of dollars from her own line of gummies called Sugarpova. Kobe Bryant earned around $12 million endorsing drive-through burgers. Serena Williams hauled in tens of millions of dollars for serving up sweet words for cookies and other nutritional nightmares. LeBron James earned around $45 million for endorsing a whole menu of bad-for-you foods, beverages and chewing gum.

But luckily, parents can help kids resist these nutritional bombs. Most importantly, you can become the star who inspires your child by making good nutrition and regular physical activity a part of everyday life. Talk to your children about how “buy this junk” messages aren’t kid-friendly. Explain that an athlete may deserve respect for accomplishing major feats in sports, but that doesn’t mean he or she has any credibility when it comes to suggesting what you should eat for breakfast.

Hidden household hazards

Ever since Edgar Allan Poe wrote “The Telltale Heart,” people have been worried about what menace might be lurking, unseen, in their homes (just think of this year’s “The Conjuring”). But there’s nothing supernatural about the menaces hiding in your dishwasher and vacuum cleaner. Luckily, you can exorcise them easily.

One new study found that 62 percent of dishwashers harbor mold, and half of those had black fungus-like yeast (Exophiala) that can make you sick – triggering headaches and respiratory and neurological problems. In dishwashers, it’s the rubber gasket around the door that’s a breeding ground for harmful organisms. Over time, debris can collect in and on it – it’s not washed out during a cycle. Make sure you wash under it once a week with a regular household cleaner. Also check spinning arms for debris blocking the water holes, and clean around the drain in the bottom of the machine. Use a standard dishwasher cleanser monthly.

And then there’s your vacuum cleaner, which can spew molds and harmful bacteria. Even if yours has a HEPA filter (they don’t always block potential allergens and bacteria), vacuuming kicks up debris, including bacteria, mold and dust mites detritus. Your best bet to contain these potential troublemakers: Use microfiber or electrostatic – never feather – dusters, change your vacuum’s HEPA filter regularly, get rid of old carpets and wash area rugs and behind and under furniture weekly.

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