A young woman cries.

Uncontrollable Emotions

One minute it's an outburst of anger. The next you're crying uncontrollably. Nothing outside of you prompted the change, but your emotions are up and down in a moment's notice. Depression can swing your moods around, keeping you away from the calm you so desperately want. Similar to another mood disorder — bipolar disorder — moods can fluctuate uncontrollably, which is one reason why the two are often confused. for more       http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/recognizing-depression-symptoms?utm_medium=yahhp#7

A person stands on a scale.

Appetite & Weight

Weight and appetite can fluctuate differently for each person with major depression. Some will have an increased appetite and gain weight while others won't be hungry and lose weight. A distinguishing factor to determine if the dietary changes are related to depression is whether they are intentional or not. If they're not, it's a clue that something larger is wrong.

A man looks irritated.

Anxiety & Irritability

Sure, Picasso's "Old Guitarist" might have summed up the depressed painter's emotions during his blue period, but often people with major depression see plenty of red. The physical and mental toll of depression also contributes to anxiety and irritability. Research shows men are more likely to show these signs because the sexes react differently to depression. Women are more likely to internalize their problems while men tend to externalize their feelings by blaming them on other people.

A woman looks tired as she sits up in bed.

Fatigue & Sleep

Part of the reason you might stop doing things you enjoy is because you feel so tired. Depression often comes with a lack of energy and an overwhelming feeling of lethargy, which can be the most debilitating symptoms of depression. This could lead to excessive sleeping or no sleep at all.
Depression is also linked to insomnia, as one might lead to the other and vice versa. They can also make each other worse. The lack of quality, restful sleep can also lead to anxiety, which is explained on the next page.   for more http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/recognizing-depression-symptoms?utm_medium=yahhp#4

Being unhappy isn't the same as being depressed. Depression is a term often used loosely to describe how we feel after a bad week at work or when we get dumped. But major depressive disorder – a type of depression – is much more complicated. The specific symptoms and signs determine whether it's depression or just a case of the Mondays.
Determining if persistent, unshakable feelings are a result of depression can start the process of eradicating them from your life. Click through this slideshow, and test yourself to see if it's time to see a professional.
A woman looks sullenly out a window

Changed Feelings

Major depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you feel about life in general. Having a hopeless or helpless outlook on your life is the most commonly associated symptom of depression. Other feelings may be worthlessness, self-hate or inappropriate guilt. Common, reoccurring thoughts of depression are vocalized as, "It's all my fault," or "What's the point?"
A man sits on steps and looks sad
Depression can take the pleasure or enjoyment out of things you love. A loss of interest or withdrawal from activities that you once looked forward to — sports, hobbies, or going out with friends — is yet another telltale sign of major depression. Another symptom of major depression is a decreased sex drive and even impotence.
A women looks bored during a meeting

In papyrus scrolls dating back from 1550 BC, Hippocrates, the Greek physician famed as the father of medicine, offered a formula for sweet-smelling breath: rinsing with a mouthwash made of red wine, anise and dill.  Toothpaste is even older than that, with an ancient Egyptian medical text called the Ebers Papyrus containing recipes dating back some 6,000 years, while toothbrushes to apply it were only invented about 500 years ago, most likely by the Chinese, reports Dr. Harold Katz, director of the California Breath Clinics and author of The Bad Breath Bible.
Today, 93 million Americans suffer from chronically bad breath (halitosis), which can sometimes signal other health problems. If you or someone you smooch with regularly is one of them, these tactics can help restore fresh breath, according to Margaret Mitchell, DDS and other experts.
Get the latest information about proper oral care for a healthy smile and a strong body.
1. Clean your tongue. Along with brushing and flossing twice a day, also use a tongue scraper, available at most drugstores, or brush your tongue. “Your tongue, especially the top back, is a serious source of halitosis,” says Dr. Mitchell. That’s because your tongue has millions of filaments that can trap food particles and bacteria, leading to oral odor. 
2. Chew sugarless gum.  Surprising as it sounds, saliva is the best defense against bad breath. A common cause of halitosis is dry mouth, which can be triggered by certain medications and health problems. If you’re wondering why morning breath can be smelly, that’s because saliva flow is lower during sleep. Chewing gum counteracts these problems by stimulating salivation. What’s more, gum containing the sugar substitute xylitol may help reduce cavity-causing bacteria, a recent study suggests. 
3. Scent your breath with cinnamon. Unlike other flavorings, such as mint, which only mask bad breath, cinnamon appears to have odor-combating compounds, with a study presented at the annual meeting of International Association for Dental Research reporting that the cinnamon-flavored gum, Big Red, seems to reduce odor-causing bacteria. In the study, people who chewed the gum had a more than 50 percent drop in bacteria levels.
Check out eight other foods like cinnamon that help your body heal.
4. Keep your mouth moist. Drinking more water also helps wash away bad-smelling bacteria. There’s also research indicating that drinking tea may be helpful, since it contains polypehnols, a plant chemical that may help curb bacterial growth. 
5. Pay attention to your diet. An unfortunate side effect of a low-carb diet, such as the Atkins plan, can be “dragon breath” due to ketosis (the fat-burning state that is one of the goals of this type of diet).  The only cure is increasing carbs, though chewing mint leaves or parsley can temporarily mask the problem. Also watch out for other foods that can trigger mouth odor, such as coffee, alcohol, and such obvious culprits as onions and garlic. 
6. Choose the right mouthwash. Antibacterial mouthwashes help combat oral infections, thus improving breath. An analysis of five studies involving 293 participants by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that such ingredients as chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorine dioxide and zinc are all helpful for reducing mouth odor. However, chlorhexidine mouthwash, available by prescription from dentists, can temporarily stain teeth and your tongue. If your dentist advises it to clear up an oral infection, you may be told to dip a Q-tip into the mouthwash and apply it to the backs of your teeth and gums, or only to the infected area. 
7. Rule out medical problems.  90 percent of the time, halitosis is triggered by microbes in the mouth. Common dental causes include cavities, gum disease (which may not cause any obvious symptoms other than bad breath), and faulty tooth restorations that have become a breeding ground for bacteria. However, if you have good oral health—and persistent halitosis—check with your doctor, since such illnesses as respiratory tract infections, diabetes, acid reflux disease, liver disease and even cancer, in rare cases, can also cause mouth odor, cautions Dr. Mitchell. One of the best ways to protect your oral health—and keep your breath fresh—is to avoid tobacco use, which greatly increases risk for gum disease and oral cancer.

You know you're slightly pungent after a hard Spinning class or garlicky dinner.
But it turns out that some less expected factors--like how quickly you get dressed in the morning, the amount of carbs you eat, or whether you snore--can also affect your BO, breath, gassiness, and more. Here's how to fix it, fast.

According to a new study published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, men treated for prostate cancer who regularly took aspirin for other medical conditions were less likely to die of cancer than patients who were not taking aspirin.
In the study, researchers used the national database from a project known as CaPSURE (Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor) to take a look at almost 6,000 men who had localized prostate cancer and were treated with either surgery or radiotherapy. Just over one-third (2,175 of 5,955) were taking anticoagulants, most of which used aspirin.
The men taking aspirin were less than half as likely as those who were not taking aspirin to die of prostate cancer over a 10 year period. Researchers calculated that the prostate cancer death rate for those taking aspirin was 3 percent, versus 8 percent in those who did not take aspirin.
In addition to having a low rate of death from prostate cancer, the aspirin using men were also significantly less likely to experience a recurrence of prostate cancer or have the disease spread to the bones.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. It is also the No. 2 cancer killer of men.

The confirmed number of cases of West Nile virus has increased to 60, which is more than double the number of human cases documented three weeks ago.
Officials are calling this one of the worst summers for the mosquito-borne virus in the state and across the U.S. Two people - a 76-year-old man in Hamilton County and an 87-year-old man in Cuyahoga County - have died from the virus. Statewide, 47 people have been hospitalized with symptoms that began between July 10 and August 28. Cuyahoga County has the most human cases so far with 21 cases.
Across the United States, 1,993 cases have been reported to federal health officials. This is an increase of 403 in one week, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year, deaths from the disease stand at 87, which is up from 66 reported a week earlier.
According to the CDC, one in five who become infected with the virus will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness and bodyaches.

This summer was definitely one for the records. For the first time ever, the temperature during each of the traditional summer holidays - Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day - in Cleveland this year reached 90 degrees.
On Memorial Day, Cleveland was a sweltering 92 degrees. Independence Day was even hotter at 96 degrees, and Labor Day just made the cut, coming in at an unseasonably warm 90 degrees. Each of these dates was well above average. The average temperature for Memorial Day is 74 degrees, the average for the Fourth of July is 82.5 degrees, and the average for Labor Day is 78.5 degrees.

A new study suggests that men who smoke marijuana are at an increased risk of testicular cancer, however, men who use cocaine may be at a lower risk for the disease.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer to be diagnosed in young men between the ages of 15 to 45.
Researchers found that men with a history of marijuana use were twice as likely to have substypes of testicular cancer called non-seminoma and mixed germ cell tumors. These tumors usually occur in younger men, and carry a slightly worse prognosis than the seminoma subtype.
Dr. Victoria Cortessis and researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California looked at the history of recreational drug use in 163 young men diagnosed with testicular cancer and compared it to that of 292 healthy men of the same age and ethnicity to see if drug use might play a role.
Dr. Cortessis said:

Don’t even think about sucking it in so you’ll fit into those cute fitted white jeans: There are less-painful and longer-lasting ways to get the amazing middle you crave. We went straight to experts to get their very best advice for quickly shrinking your tummy. Here are the surprising foods, tricks, and moves they swear by. Their genius tips will help you shed inches and pounds, banish the bloat, and feel even more gorgeous. Hello, skinny jeans!

Most people go on a diet for purely aesthetic reasons, with a goal of getting rid of a spare tire around the midsection or unsightly back fat, so it's no wonder that with a name like "the flat belly diet" people are jumping on the latest fad diet bandwagon. Details of the new diet are, of course, chronicled in a book written by Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass.
Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Prevention Magazine, and Sass, a registered dietitian and the nutrition director of Prevention Magazine, stress the importance of mind tricks in achieving your weight loss goals. This could be something as simple as keeping those skinny size 28 jeans that no longer fit hanging in plain view.
According to the authors, getting a flat stomach is all about food and attitude. The mind tricks serve to remind you at mealtime that "you have embarked on a new way of life."
Mindtricks aside, the key component of the flat belly diet is a 1600 calorie per day plan spread out over four 400-calorie meals. The diet also stresses the importance of allowing no more than four hours between meals, and that each meal should include a monosaturated fatty food to help get rid of that flabby belly.
Creators of the diet claim that new research shows that monosaturated fatty acids help make weight loss easier, but specifically target belly fat. The fine flat belly foods in the diet include oils, olives, nuts and seeds, dark or semisweet chocolate, and avocado. Specifically, the nuts and seeds include almond butter, almonds, chunky natural peanut butter, and Brazil nuts. Oils include olive oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil.
The diet itself lasts 28 days, and begins with a four-day anti-bloat start designed to eliminate swelling and prep the body for the diet. Water mixed with ginger and a prescribed list of food and drinks are consumed to "help flush out fluid, reduce water retention, and relieve digestive issues."
Some sample meals on the diet include a # Crunchy Tuna Melt, Shrimp and Snow Pea Sesame Pasta, Cheesy Spinach Ziti, and more. Additional recipes, customizable daily menus, and online support are available at the diet's subscription based website located at flatbellydiet.com.

It's no secret that exercise boosts your mood, jump-starts your sex drive, and improves your overall health. But that still doesn't always get you to the gym.

So what could be better than a workout that takes your mind off the fact that you're working hard to burn those calories?

"Sexy workouts help us tune into our bodies in a sensual way, so we feel more receptive and more interested in sex," says Marianne Brandon, PhD, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Annapolis, Md.

Apart from doing the deed itself, these 10 exercises are the sexiest ways to break a sweat. They'll get your heart racing—in more ways than one!

Kainat is due to marry today, but the wedding ceremony she awaits is not what she had dreamed of. Several of her nine siblings are sick, her father ill and without work, and since Pakistan's floods washed away her family home she lives in a dusty camp hundreds of kilometers away from where she was raised.....

• WHO’s epidemiological bulletin will now be published on a weekly bases presenting trends, while daily information will be distributed only to concerned staff.

• Ongoing malaria surveillance in collaboration with the Malaria Control Programme has identified the following districts with high incidence of Falciparum cases: Layyah, Rajanpur, DG Khan and Muzaffargarh in Punjab; Jacobabad, Larkana, Thatta and Khairpur in Sindh; Naseerabad, Sibi, Zhob and Jhal Magsi in Baluchistan.
• New cases of Dengue and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) were reported last week. The MoH assisted by WHO is planning control measures.
• Over the past week, ten new poliomyelitis (polio) cases were reported, seven of which are from flood-affected districts.
• Plans for Early recovery for flood affected districts becoming a priority for the Health Cluster.
• Health cluster partners (key NGOs/UN agencies) have been identified to lead health cluster coordination activities in 5 most affected districts (Mianwali, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, DG Khan and Rajanpur).

16 October, 2010 ¦ Islamabad - Pakistan's National Institute of Health (NIH) has confirmed that cases of Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and Dengue fever have been recorded in the country. Twenty-two cases of CCHF have been confirmed this year (13 from Rawalpindi, three from Islamabad, one from Abbottabad and five from Balochistan), and 2164 suspected and 921 laboratory-confirmed cases of Dengue have been recorded, including 842 confirmed cases in Sindh, 24 in Punjab, 17 in Rawalipndi, 18 in Islamabad, 19 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and one in Azad Jamu Kashmire....

It had been a long and difficult journey, fully deserving of the marching band and choirs that greeted the convoy when it finally rolled into this village deep in the African bush.

The shipment had traveled from a factory in India by sea to Kenya, then overland across much of southern Africa to the place where the paved road ended.

The cargo was mosquito nets — weapons in a war against malaria, a disease that has long taken a back seat to AIDS in the world's consciousness of Africa's woes, even though it kills almost as many Africans a year as the HIV virus.

In recent years, however, malaria's profile has risen in the world of celebrities and high-spending philanthropists. Actress Sharon Stone gave the cause a spectacular boost in a 2005, and the shipment of 11,900 mosquito nets to the Zambian village of Sesheke was financed and accompanied by Neville Isdell, a former Coca-Cola CEO, and Chris Flowers, a billionaire American investor.

It was organized by British-based Christian Aid, which works with local churches to distribute the nets free of charge.

Chaze Simbotwe, a 72-year-old villager, was astonished at the spectacle of visitors traveling so far to help. She said she lost a child to malaria, and has suffered bouts of the disease herself.

"It is difficult for me to express my gratitude," she said. "These people have good hearts. Who would have thought of buying an old woman like me a mosquito net?"

Malaria kills close to a million Africans a year, mostly children, a death toll close to that of AIDS. Isdell himself suffered malaria as a boy growing up in Zambia.

"I have shivered in bed with it, but luckily I got over it," he told villagers in Sesheke when the nets arrived three weeks ago.

Flowers discovered the problem while visiting projects he was funding. In Zambia he encountered a mother who had just lost her two-year-old son to malaria. He realized she did not understand what simple steps might have saved that life.

"Your dollar goes a long way toward helping people in a profound way," he told The Associated Press. "It's such a big problem, and it's one where people feel they can have some impact."

Indeed, one reason malaria strikes a chord in the affluent West is that it seems so easily preventable: a $5 donation buys a net, and $5 more will pay to teach a villager rudimentary medical skills. The shipment to Sesheke cost about $100,000.

Actress Stone realized this at the 2005 World Economic Forum in Davos as she listened to Benjamin Mkapa, a former president of Tanzania, telling an audience of movers and shakers how cheap and lifesaving nets could be.

It struck her that "We can get bed nets, we can ship them now, we can change things now. They can have such an impact."

She stood up, pledged $10,000 and asked, "Would anyone else like to stand up and help President Mkapa today?"

"All of a sudden, 80 people stood up in unison," Stone recalled in a telephone interview from Los Angeles with the Associated Press. "I thought I was going to have a heart attack."

A net can be as effective against mosquitoes as a condom is against AIDS, and for those already afflicted, the drug regimen is much simpler and cheaper.

Still, "Malaria is, in fact, not a quick fix," said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Senegal's former minister of health and now active in the campaign against malaria.

The nets have to be shipped in from afar. Then people have to be taught to use them correctly. Often they forget to use their nets, or the nets becomes frayed, or the insecticide wears off.

Mosquito breeding grounds must be sprayed regularly with insecticide. More clinics are needed, more doctors and nurses, quicker access to the latest drugs because the disease constantly develops new immunities.

Many countries lack the money and infrastructure to distribute nets. Sesheke didn't get its paved road until two years ago.

Susan Lassen, point woman for Isdell and Flowers in Africa, says Zambia has done well overall, organizing and spending donor money wisely. But elsewhere in Africa she has seen mosquito nets piled up in parking lots for lack of distribution systems.

"We've done a disservice by saying it's simple," she said. "It's very important that people understand it's not just '$10 saves a life.' It's not just a one-off. It has to be a continuous process."

And now there are fears the global economic downturn will slow donations.

This year, donors committed $11.7 billion to The Global Fund fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria over the next three years. That was 20 percent more than was pledged for 2008-2010, but far below the $17 billion

After winning a 24-hour track run in record time, Stephanie Ehret should have been celebrating. Instead, she was in a Phoenix emergency room, vomiting up a strange substance, which a doctor informed her was part of her digestive tract lining. Feverish and nauseous, Ehret could barely move. "I'd never felt so bad," she says. "I was pretty sure I was dying."

A few hours later, doctors diagnosed the problem — rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal precursor to kidney failure. Though dehydration and overexertion contributed to Ehret's condition, doctors told her that the 12 ibuprofen pills she'd taken during the 24-hour race had pushed her kidneys into the danger zone.

When used properly, over-the-counter pain medications can be a godsend. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can tame many pains. And non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can reduce pain and swelling in the first few days following an acute injury like an ankle sprain. The trouble comes, doctors say, when people, like Ehret, misuse these drugs. "A couple of ibuprofens really helped, so I figured more was better," Ehret says. Indeed, many runners treat anti-inflammatory drugs like "vitamin I," says pharmacologist Joe Graedon, co-author of The People's Pharmacy book series. "They think, I'm putting my body through a lot, so I'll just dose up on ibuprofen, without appreciating how potentially dangerous this drug can be."

Runners beware
Runners may think that as long as they don't go overboard like Ehret, they'll be safe. But experts say the benefits of popping even one pill before a 10K don't outweigh the risks. NSAIDs inhibit prostaglandins, hormones that help normalize blood flow to the kidneys. Mix an NSAID with physical exertion and dehydration, and you can overwhelm your kidneys.

What's more, NSAIDs can bump up your blood pressure, and when you add this to the natural rise that occurs when you exercise, "suddenly you have two things increasing your blood pressure," Graedon says. If you already have high blood pressure, "you could have a mini stroke or a heart attack," he says. NSAIDs also block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) that normally protects the heart, and this might explain why many NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, may raise the risk of heart attack.

Some forms of COX also protect the stomach lining from digestive acids, so when an NSAID blocks this enzyme, you may experience nausea, diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, and cramps. When used during a marathon or ultra, NSAIDs also seem to boost the risk of hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance that can cause the brain to swell. "It's something you can die of during a race," says Martin Hoffman, M. D., director of research at the Western States Endurance Run.

Many runners believe that NSAIDs increase their pain tolerance, but studies contradict this notion. In 2005, David Nieman, Dr. P.H., director of the human performance lab at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, examined ibuprofen use at Western States. About 70 percent of the racers said they took it to help them manage the discomfort of racing. But when he measured pain and muscle soreness in these pill poppers, he found no reduction compared with nonusers. Worse, ibuprofen takers had more inflammation. "There's no good reason to use ibuprofen during a race," Nieman says. "There are too many potential negatives." Any pain and inflammation that turns up while running is not something you should medicate but a signal that it's time to reevaluate your training regimen, he says.

Watch the dosage

For relief during or after exercise, Hoffman recommends acetaminophen since it works via a different mechanism than NSAIDs, and the drug doesn't have the side effects associated with aspirin or ibuprofen. "It's a relatively safe drug, and it doesn't present problems with the kidney or gut," he says.

But watch the dosage. While it's safe at recommended doses, acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver, especially when mixed with alcohol. "You can hit the tipping point pretty fast with acetaminophen," says Graedon. Acetaminophen overdose is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States, in part because the drug is found in many over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, so it's easy to overdose if you take one of these drugs with Tylenol.

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, women have even more reason to start paying attention to preventative measures: According to recent research presented at this year’s European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC), taking specific steps to help lower the risk of breast cancer can make the difference between a healthy checkup and a dangerous diagnosis. Researchers analyzed years of studies and data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer to deduce that one-third of all breast cancer cases can be avoided simply through diet and exercise—a surprising conclusion that raised eyebrows worldwide and contradicts the common conception that some women are powerless against the disease due to genetic makeup or family history. What’s more, new research continues to compile to show exactly which nutritional and physical approaches can help best reduce your risk.

Ready to take action? We’ve sifted through the latest studies and talked to the leading experts so that you can know—and do—everything possible to prevent the disease.
During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, women have even more reason to start paying attention to preventative measures: According to recent research presented at this year’s European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC), taking specific steps to help lower the risk of breast cancer can make the difference between a healthy checkup and a dangerous diagnosis. Researchers analyzed years of studies and data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer to deduce that one-third of all breast cancer cases can be avoided simply through diet and exercise—a surprising conclusion that raised eyebrows worldwide and contradicts the common conception that some women are powerless against the disease due to genetic makeup or family history. What’s more, new research continues to compile to show exactly which nutritional and physical approaches can help best reduce your risk.

Ready to take action? We’ve sifted through the latest studies and talked to the leading experts so that you can know—and do—everything possible to prevent the disease.

Exercise more—and turn up the tempo.

Study after study has shown that exercise helps lessen the likelihood of breast cancer, but how much do you really need to lower your chances? Carlo La Vecchia, MD, of the University of Milan, who helped present the exercise-diet conclusion at the 2010 EBCC, recommends logging at least “three to four hours of moderate exercise” a week. That’s a great starting goal, says Kathleen Wesa, MD, of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, but “I suggest women aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity five days per week.” Wesa defines 100 steps per minute while walking as moderate. “You want to increase your level of fitness, and if you’re sauntering, that’s not going to be effective.”

Indeed, going for a light walk or watching TV while leisurely pedaling the stationary bike may not be enough, according to a recent National Cancer Institute study of more than 110,000 postmenopausal women. Researchers tracked participants’ exercise habits for a decade to find that those who logged more than seven hours of moderate to vigorous exercise a week for the past 10 years were 16 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who remained inactive or exercised less or not as vigorously.

If the word “vigorous” triggers a guttural reaction, John Potter, MD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington and senior advisor of Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, says to start slowly. “Any activity is better than nothing,” says Potter, who recommends exercise-phobes begin by walking 30 minutes four days a week, then work up slowly to daily, regular intense activity lasting up to an hour. “Vigorous exercise—getting sweaty and breathing hard—is better than low-intensity exercise, but any exercise is better than setting the bar too high so that it causes failure, too much pain, or an injury,” Potter concludes.

Eat fruits and vegetables—but some more than others.

When asked which foods he deemed best for lowering the likelihood of breast cancer by that whopping one-third, La Vecchia responds that “a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and thereby in micronutrients and food components like flavonoids, appears to be most favorable.” (For more on micronutrients, see “Eat for Optimal Health” on page 25.) This—as well as the long-standing recommendation from the American Cancer Institute to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily to prevent cancer—contradicts a much-publicized 2010 study from Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Tisch Cancer Institute that found only a weak association between high produce intake and reduced cancer risk.

So which is it? Does food matter? “Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal, and not all people respond the same way to their presence in the diet,” says John Milner, PhD, chief of the nutritional science research group for the National Cancer Institute. “But fruits and vegetables likely play an important role in breast cancer risk reduction, as well as in the risk reduction of many other diseases.” Milner says berries, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and bulb crops, including onions, leeks, and garlic, have the strongest data from the most studies to suggest that increased intake can help lower your likelihood. Additionally, he says, women should consider upping their intake of pomegranates: A new study from Israeli researchers discovered that pomegranate seed oil causes breast cancer cells to self-destruct in laboratory experiments. Milner and other experts believe the fruit, when consumed frequently and over time—within an appropriate caloric intake—may also help decrease a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.

Adopt a Mediterranean diet—but keep it to one glass of wine a day

Boosting your dietary intake of fruits and vegetables is critical regardless of your everyday nutritional approach, but if you really want to do everything you can to guard against breast cancer, adopt the Mediterranean diet, say top experts. A study of more than 14,000 Greek women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July found that postmenopausal women who adhered to a Mediterranean-style plan—or who ate primarily whole grains, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fish, and up to 10 servings daily of fruits and vegetables—were 22 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who didn’t follow or only partially complied to the diet.

According to Roger Clemens, PhD, spokesman for the American Society of Nutrition, which publishes the journal in which the study appeared, the Mediterranean diet helps reduce cancer risk because it combines the right types of cancer-blocking foods into one healthy approach. “Consuming no one food or food group alone prevents breast cancer,” Clemens explains. “But eating the right blend of foods really reduces your risk of the disease.”

The caveat, say researchers, is to ensure that you do really adhere to the diet. “I recommend people eat three to five servings of fruits and three to five servings of vegetables daily, along with plenty of lean protein, extra-virgin olive oil, and unprocessed whole grains,” Wesa says.

Although wine, particularly red, has received much acclaim as an important age-reversing, disease-fighting component of the Mediterranean diet, most experts advise women at risk for breast cancer to drink no more than one five-ounce glass of the heart-healthy beverage a day. “Alcohol intake is a nuanced message,” says Michelle Holmes, MD, associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We know that drinking alcohol increases a woman’s risk of getting and dying from breast cancer, but moderate alcohol intake can also decrease her risk of getting and dying from heart disease. The balancing point—where the benefit of decreasing heart disease is more than the downside of increasing breast cancer—occurs among women who consume a half-glass or full glass of alcohol per day.”

Know your BMI­—then change it.

Exercising more and opting for fewer processed grains and sugars and more fruits and vegetables will help you maintain, if not lose, weight. But for overweight and obese women, lowering overall body mass index, or BMI—the standard measure of body fat based on height and weight—should be priority No. 1. “Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor not only for breast cancer, but for many diseases,” Wesa says. Why? The reason is threefold, Potter explains. First, obesity increases the body’s insulin levels and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) that have a growth-promoting effect on cells—especially, perhaps on malignant and pre-malignant cells. But being overweight also boosts the body’s estrogen levels, which research shows stimulates cell growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer—the most common type of breast cancer among Western women. Finally, Potter says, recent studies have also proven conclusively that overweight and obese women have higher levels of inflammation, which provide an unsafe pro-cancer environment for the development of the disease in the breasts, lungs, and other organs.

According to the National Cancer Institute, any BMI over 25 increases a woman’s likelihood of incurring breast cancer significantly, while a BMI of more than 30, which is considered obese, pushes a woman’s risk of developing the disease to more than 60 percent, reports a 2006 British study of more than 6,000 women. To lower your risk, start by learning your BMI: Visit the National Institutes of Health’s website for a free online BMI Calculator (nhlbisupport.com/bmi). If your number is over 25, begin exercising and reducing your daily caloric intake immediately, while choosing fresh produce, lean protein, and healthy fats over processed carbohydrates, fatty meats, and sugary foods. “I won’t quibble with someone saying, ‘I’m big boned or muscular and can thereby weigh more and still be healthy,’” says Christine D. Berg, MD, chief of the early detection research group of the National Cancer Institute. The take-home? Stop making excuses and start taking steps that can help prevent your risk of breast cancer—it may just save your life.

Find toxins in your home—and eliminate them.

Diet and exercise aren’t the only factors that can increase your breast cancer risk. More and more studies examining the effects of environmental toxins suggest that everyday chemicals found in our homes and water supply may be responsible for rising rates of the disease, the incidence of which has increased by 30 percent over the past 25 years, says the American Cancer Society. Here are three ways to reduce your risk, according to Ruthann Rudel, director of research for the Silent Spring Institute, the leading nonprofit research group focused on finding links between the environment and breast cancer.

Throw out your chemical cleaners.

A 2010 study by Rudel and her colleagues published in Environmental Health found that frequent use of common chemical cleaners may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by as much as 50 percent. According to Rudel, many commercial cleaners contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that could effectively increase estrogen levels, shown to interfere with cell growth and development. Since scientists aren’t sure exactly which chemicals are hormonally active—and the chemicals aren’t tested before being added to commercial cleaners—Rudel says it’s best to limit use of commercial products, choosing toxin-free, simple alternatives like vinegar whenever possible. (For more on green cleaning products, go to naturalsolutions mag.com and type “Is Your Home Toxic?” into the search box.)

Increase indoor air quality by decreasing consumer products. In a study published in Environmental Science & Technology in August, Silent Spring researchers discovered that concentrations of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are higher in our homes than in outdoor air. “Based on laboratory experiments, EDCs in high concentrations increase the risk of breast cancer,” Rudel says. EDCs, found in commercial furniture, carpets, detergents, clothing, electronics, and building products, are difficult to avoid altogether, but Rudel says you can reduce your exposure simply by buying fewer commercially produced goods (do you really need that plastic bowl or another table for the foyer?). When remodeling or moving, she adds, opt for chemical-free rugs (avoid additives like “stain-resistant”) and choose woods instead of vinyls and plastics. Also, allow new products, including newly dry-cleaned clothes, to off-gas outside before bringing them inside.

Investigate the water supply. Ongoing research from the Silent Spring Institute continues to show that our groundwater supplies can be contaminated with high levels of endogenous hormones, chemical cleaners, and certain pharmaceutical drugs—all of which can increase your chances of incurring breast cancer. Rudel suggests women contact their local water department to find out about their water source—you can also look up your water supply online by visiting the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database (ewg.org/tap-water/whats-in-your-water). Or you can buy a home-testing kit or send your water to a state-certified lab to be tested (find one by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800.426.4791 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visiting epa.gov/safewater/labs). 3M Clean Water Solutions (3mcleanerworld.com) offers free testing in some cities and then will suggest the right filter to address the contaminants found in your water.

If your water’s chlorinated or shows concentrations of nitrate (a chemical in fertilizer and septic-tank runoff) over 1 mg/L, invest in a filter, says Rudel, adding that you must change the filter when recommended to avoid oversaturation and the release of collected toxins back into the water. Finally, don’t even think about buying bottled water unless you choose a supplier that doesn’t use endocrine-disrupting bisphenol-A in its plastic bottles or jugs.