Getty Images Credits: Getty Images
What to ask your doctor about Angelina's cancer surgery.
When Angelina Jolie writes about her personal health struggles in the New York Times, it makes a splash. In 2013, Jolie set off a media storm by writing about her double mastectomy and genetic predisposition for cancer, then wrote about a second surgery, this time to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes, in 2015.
High drama, yes, but it’s hard not to admire her candour. Jolie writes that she is now in full menopause and using bio-identical estrogen patches and an IUD to replace the hormones she’s lost. That’s no small reveal for anyone, let alone an actress known for her vitality and sex appeal.
Jolie also added a note of caution, knowing that the "Jolie effect" is now a recognized factor in doctor-patient conversations and that her preventative surgeries are an extreme course of action.
"I did not do this solely because I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, and I want other women to hear this. A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery," she writes.
On this point, Canadian doctors and cancer experts agree. High drama may be a good way to start a conversation but calm heads makes the soundest decisions.
A cancer doctor weighs in
Dr. Marcus Bernardini a surgical oncologist at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at University Health Network told us there are a few things Canadian women should know in the wake of Jolie’s announcement:
1. There is actually no effective general screening for high-grade serious ovarian cancer and screening is not recommended.
2. Preventative surgery is recommended for high-risk women (those who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation).
3. Jolie mentions a scenario in which only the fallopian tubes are removed (called a salpingectomy) for women who still hope to get pregnant. Dr. Bernardini calls this "an intriguing strategy," but for now the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes (a salpingo-oophorectomy) is the recommended course of action.
4. There are four questions Dr. Bernardini suggests discussing with your doctor if you have concerns raised by Angelina Jolie’s story:
- Am I at risk for ovarian cancer?
- Is there a history of ovarian cancer in my family?
- How does one find out if they are eligible for testing?
- I know there are different types of ovarian cancer, are all preventable in this way?
Family history is the starting point
Responding to the Jolie news this week, Gillian Bromfield, the director of Cancer Control Policy at the Canadian Cancer Society also pointed out that it’s important that people try to learn their family health history.
The group also has information for women with a known strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer, including information on genetic testing, and preventive strategies that may be available to them, she says.
"The decision to have a preventive surgery is a very personal one that a woman would make in consultation with her healthcare provider based on her medical history and her personal preferences," she says.
Here’s hoping Jolie’s candour leads to more information being shared – not more panic.
Read on for more information on menopause and genetic testing.
Beyond Thanksgiving dessert and carving jack-o’-lanterns, this autumn gourd has a host of health benefits. Here are five ways pumpkins can improve your diet, sleep and skin, plus five easy and nutritious pumpkin recipes.
1. Healthy eyes
Pumpkin is a rich source of beta-carotene—it’s what gives it that rich, vibrant colour. Packed with potent antioxidants, it helps protect your vision from degeneration. Bonus: You’ll also see stronger nails and healthier hair.
2. Glowing skin
Pumpkins are rich in a host of skin-healthy vitamins: the properties from antioxidant-rich vitamin A (retinol) act as a shield for your skin, protecting you from the damaging affects of free radicals; vitamin C helps promote collagen production and renew the skin for a glowing face; and vitamin E improves skin tone.
3. Energy boost
The daily recommended iron intake for women is higher than for men, and as women age or become pregnant, the necessary dose increases. Pumpkins are full of iron, an immunity-boosting mineral that can help ward of illness and fatigue and keep your energy high.
4. Better diet
High in fibre (7 grams per one cup of canned pumpkin) and low in calories (26 calories for 100g), pumpkins can help you stay full longer and keep your digestion on track. The Heart & Stroke association recommends 21 to 38 grams of fibre a day, however most people don’t quite reach half that amount.
5. Improved sleep and mood
Don’t toss the seeds. Raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) are rich in tryptophan (yes, the same snooze-inducing amino acid that kicks in post-turkey dinner) and can help you get more Zs. This compound also supports serotonin, which not only helps you sleep better, but boosts your mood, too.
Whether you use the whole pumpkin, the pulp or the seeds, here are five must-try recipes, ranging from savoury to sweet.
Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup
This silky soup is a mix of traditional sweet and sour Thai flavours and has only 159 calories per serving. It’s guaranteed to be your go-to winter warm-up soup.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
A muffin is a great grab-and-go treat. Skip the maple cream cheese spread to keep the calorie count (250 calories) low.
Arugula and Pepita Pesto
Add this pesto to salad, soups or over meat. Keeps in the freezer for up to six months.
Almond Pepita Butter
This fragrant nut butter with a mix of almond and pepita is a super-satisfying topper.
Pumpkin Pie Granola
A mix of pepitas, pecans, flaxseeds, puffed rice cereal and a medley of aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves gives this granola loads of flavour.
You've secured your costume for Halloween, but what about your beloved pet? Should you co-ordinate or should you let them shine on their own? If you're stuck on ideas or are just here for some cute photos, we've got you covered with these totally adorable Halloween pet costume ideas.
Gotta catch 'em all!
To purr-tect and serve.
Catnip is my kryptonite.
...with extra sprinkles on top!
...had a very twitchy nose.
#TacoTuesdays are my favourite day of the week!
Not your average smartdog.
I can't make honey, but I sure am sweet.
Under the sea, darling it's better, down where it's wetter, take it from me.
I'll have reduced sodium soy sauce with my sushi, thank you very much.
Ready for Halloween, Christmas and my close-up!
You've got a friend in me.
Anti aging cream Credits: Getty Images
Navigating the world of anti-aging products can be daunting. Find out which skin superstars our experts deem worthy of adding to your beauty arsenal.
What: The number one dermatologist-approved must-do: sunscreen! A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects skin from UVA (the aging rays) and UVB (the burning rays), sun rays that can lead to skin cancer and skin damage.
Why: “Ninety percent of aging comes from photo damage (a result of sun-exposed skin), therefore sunscreen is the best way to prevent aging and sun damage. Don’t even look outside at the weather. Just put it on,” insists dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll. Dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett agrees, and emphasizes the importance of using sunscreen every single day, no matter the season. Just hopping into the car or working in an office? “The sun can penetrate through windows, too,” she advises.
How: Look for sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply it in the morning before your moisturizer or choose a moisturizer with built-in sunscreen. Don’t forget to apply it to the neck, chest and back of hands. For a fuss-free option, look for a clear sunblock spray that’s alcohol-based and dry to the touch.
What: Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and its biggest job is to promote collagen production, helping to increase skin turnover while removing dead cells.
Why: It acts as a light peel. In the short term, dull-looking skin will be replaced with a healthy glow.
How: Choose a 1% retinol–based serum, which your skin will absorb better than a cream, suggests Dr. Kellett. It will tingle and can be a little irritating, so use it at night and when you’re out of the sun. Apply it after you’ve washed your face and before you apply moisturizer, or add a drop or two (depending on the season and your skin’s sensitivity) to your favourite moisturizer. This step will help more sensitive skin tolerate the retinol.
3. Vitamin C
What: It is a powerful topical antioxidant, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and prevent photo aging and photo damage. Specifically, look for L-ascorbic acid, one form of vitamin C.
Why: It helps fight sun damage. Vitamin C mops up the free radicals (molecules in the skin that cause damage) that can lead to photo aging (aging from the sun).
How: Depending on your skin type, look for products that contain up to 20% Vitamin C, suggests Dr. Kellett. Incorporate it into your morning routine and follow with sunscreen. “Sunscreen and vitamins C and E are great partners, working well together to create a super combo,” says Dr. Carroll.
What: “Found in red wine, specifically in the skin of its grapes, resveratrol is an antioxidant with a bit of a sexy history,” says Dr. Carroll. Plants produce resveratrol as a response to injury.
Why: It works to repair skin damage caused by the sun. It also helps increase skin firmness, elasticity and radiance.
How: Use it at night. It will work to repair the skin while you sleep. Apply it to a cleansed face. It can be used in combination with retinol.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.