Healthy Byte: Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Breast Cancer

Image result for mammogram

Originally Posted HERE

(Reuters Health) – Screening mammograms don’t benefit women aged 75 and older with chronic health problems – such as heart disease or diabetes – that are likely to end their lives before they develop cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 222,088 women who had at least one screening mammogram between 1999 and 2010 when they were between 66 and 94 years old. Researchers followed most women for nine years or more.

During the study, 7,583 women, or about 3%, were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 1,742 women, less than 1%, were diagnosed with pre-invasive malignancies known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). While 471 women died of breast cancer during the study, 42,229 died of other causes.

This means women were 90 times more likely to die of causes other than breast cancer, researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Having more chronic illnesses increases the risk of dying from non-breast cancer causes, while having no impact on the risk of breast cancer or breast cancer death,” said Dejana Braithwaite, senior author of the study and a researcher at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

“This is a big deal because, while younger women might have a more justifiable reason to undergo screening mammograms to detect breast cancer because their risk of dying from other causes is relatively low, this is not the case in older women, particularly those with one or more chronic illnesses,” Braithwaite said by email.

Women ages 75 to 84 were 123 times more likely to die of causes other than breast cancer; this estimate was even higher among women age 85 and older.

The 10-year risk of dying from breast cancer was small and did not vary by age; it stayed about the same from age 66 to 94, accounting for just 0.2% -0.3% of all deaths in the study.

By contrast, the risk of dying from other causes increased with age and also climbed with each additional chronic medical problem a woman had.

The goal of screening mammography is to detect tumors before they can be felt in a physical breast exam, catching cancer sooner when it’s easier to treat. Ideally, this should mean fewer women are diagnosed when tumors are bigger, rapidly growing and harder to attack.

But some research suggests that screening too early or too often can also catch more small, slow-growing tumors that are unlikely to be fatal – without curbing the diagnosis of advanced cancer cases. Harms of too much screening can include unnecessary invasive follow-up tests and cancer treatments for tumors that never would have made women sick or led to their death.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force notes that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening women age 75 or older. Many breast cancer programs in Europe stop screening women between the ages of 69 and 74.

In the U.S., despite these recommendations, many women in their 80s and 90s still get screening mammograms, the study team notes.

One limitation of the analysis is that it only included women who continued to get screening mammograms as they aged, and it’s possible results for all women in the population, including those who stopped getting mammograms, might be different, researchers note.

“Our study included large numbers of older women unlikely to benefit from screening mammography,” Braithwaite said. “Women ages 75 and older with chronic illnesses are unlikely to benefit from continuing mammograms, however, these findings underscore the need for more individualized screening strategies, rather than making sweeping recommendations.”

Healthy Byte: Day 1080 / 1090


On this Christmas eve, I acknowledge that In four days it will be three years to the nose when I received the shocking results of a much overdue annual physical that ignited a fear in me to finally take action on my health over vanity.

No more quick fixes with diet supplements. No more special expensive home-delivered pre-prepared meals. No more blind reliance on gym fitness groups or trainers. No more eating one meal a day. No more excuses of maintaining a gym membership but never go because the hubs won’t go with me. No more wishful thinking while sitting on my bum eating my second Burger King double stacker for the third time in the same week.

No. This time I had to make a change not because I wanted to be a size 2 from a size 14 (at 4’10”). Rather, this time I had to make a change or I would have to face the dire consequences of the years of neglecting my body and solely depending on youth to counter my poor eating choices. I was facing Type 2 Diabetes which is one of the few preventable diseases for most people and I was petrified of the wide array of complications associated with Type 2 Diabetes. Much more petrified than any anticipated initial inconveniences to changing the way I lived.

I downloaded the food/exercise tracking mobile app MyFitnessPal and I invested a vast amount of time researching how to lose weight for the rest of my life. From the beginning I never set out to lose X lbs by X date for X event. It was always about getting my blood glucose & BMI back into the normal range which afforded me with the luxury of time – taking the pressure off.

But where to start? WHAT:  I started with finding a modest goal. I took the median weight of a healthy BMI for my age and height and that was my initial goal. HOW: I borrowed the concept of long term behavioral modification from the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. In order for this change to be permanent I had to condition myself to a new set of habits which will lead to a new set of behavior all in hopes to ultimately lead to a new set of priorities & way of thinking. RESULTS: If I had to appoint one factor to my continued success in losing weight & keeping it off, I’d undoubtedly have to attribute it to committing to making small incremental changes to both my diet and physical activity regimen. Not that I am struggle free 100% of the time by any means, but I can say that most of the time choosing nutritionally rich foods over nutritionally poorer options and regular exercise is by & large my life now.

I thought it would be a fun reflection to share my top 10 incremental changes, the level of difficulties, and if I still miss it. So here goes!




White Bread to Whole Wheat


Diss It

High Calorie Drinks (Homemade Lemonade, Starbucks, Strawberry Milkshakes, Cherry Icee) to Water or Tea

Low – limiting my calorie intake from what I drink has also helped the next one

Diss It

Sugar Reduction

Low – reducing the sources of sugary drinks and generally sugar intake has not only helped my calorie intake but also cleared up persistent cystic acne I’ve had for years

Diss It

Free Reign Gluttony

Moderate – LOL I know this sounds absurd but sometimes I do ‘miss’ eating mindlessly and without regard. Although on the 90/10 Rule I can indulge I still indulge mindfully 99% of the time. And the reason I adhere to staying on track more than not is because the few times I did eat mindlessly I was so lethargic, bloated, and generally feel like crap for days after that I just rather not. hahahaha

Miss It … Sometimes

Total Cardio to Cardio w/Strength Training

Moderate – once I got over the fear of re-gaining weight I was able to slowly decrease the duration of cardio & incorporate more regular strength training Also understanding that strength training doesn’t necessarily mean weight lifting has made a tremendous difference in my willingness to continue


Regular Exercise

Moderate – had to get over counting on other people to ‘motivate’ me to go to the gym because I had to accept that I needed to exercise for myself, for my health Transitioned over the course of 6 months from 15 minutes twice a week to 45 – 60 minutes 6-7 days a week



Moderate – I have no self control when it comes to any sort of corn chips, Doritos, or BBQ Fritos

Miss It – I don’t buy it or have it in the house EVER!

Simple Carbs to Vegetables as ‘Fillers’

High – took me a long time to slowly phasing out simple carb fillers like pasta, rice, bread for a wider variety of vegetables. Figuring out that I have a FODMAP sensitivity has been a godsend in consuming healthy items which doesn’t make me physically ill

Diss It

After Dinner Snack

High – had to transition through a few snacks diminishing quantities before I was able to go without most of the time

Miss It – when I do hanker for an after dinner snack I choose healthier options than what I instinctively go to (chips, milk chocolate)

Pasta/White Rice to Quinoa to no or low carbs for dinner

High – this was my last item to transition because it was the most difficult to let go of & I had to transition over the course of a year

Miss It – so I avoid it like the plague





Vicious Cycle of Eating Junk Food

Type 2 Diabetes Complications

80/20 Rule

Nonceliac  Gluten Sensitivity (Intolerance)

Tips For Keeping the Weight Off for Good

Healthy Byte: Forty Pounds to Freedom (Cliff Notes Version)




This was my stats for about 3 years after the birth of my second child. In my mind, this was what moms are suppose to look like, be like. There were no time for anything else but to live & eat this way.

156 lbs BMI: 32.6 [Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater]

Your BMR is: 1319 Calories/Day

Your TDEE is: 1517 Calories/Day

Eating Habits: (actual consumption 3000+)

White or fried rice every day – twice a day (lu & dinner); Pizza & Pasta 2-3 days a week; Chips, Chip & Dip for snack 5 days out of the week; Fast Food: Burgers, Nachos, Burritos, Subs – White bread; High sugary drinks – Starbucks 5-6 times a week – Sometimes twice a day Drink of choice: White Chocolate Mocha – Grande (16 oz), Whole Milk w/Whip Cream (500 calories each), Soda, Lemonade  made w/4 CUPS of sugar in every batch = 3,092 calories per pitcher) 2-3 (8oz) cups everyday is about 386.5 calories each; Lots of fried foods; Beef almost exclusively; Food generally was drowned in gravy or some sort of sauce or condiment ie. ketchup; no veggies; no fruits, no water)

Ate Out: 3-4 times a week

Meal Frequency: Lunch & Dinner only (85% Refined Carbs 5% High Fat Protein 10%Sugar/Fat)

Habit: Ate until I couldn’t move >50% of the time

Activity Level: Zero consistent exercise or physical activity – tried to walk once a or twice a week pushing the kiddos in a stroller in the park … usually last 2-3 weeks then ‘life’ got in the way.




My ‘baby weight’ for about the next 12 years after the birth of my second child. LOL I had tried a series of yo-yo quick fixes to losing weight. Anything from popping diet pills to joining the weight loss group at the gym. Nothing stuck because I wanted immediate results but didn’t want to be bothered with the nitty gritty details like nutrition or consistency or patience – working full time & mother of two, who had time for THAT?! In my mind, this was the price of being a working mother and I had all but made peace with it.

133 lbs BMI: 27.8 [Overweight = 25–29.9]

Your BMR is: 1154 Calories/Day

Your TDEE is: 1327 Calories/Day

Eating Habits: (actual consumption 2000+)

White rice every day for dinner only; Pizza & Pasta 2 days a week; Fast Food: ‘healthier options’ tacos, Burrito bowls, Subs wheat bread; Pork & breaded fish fillets; Limited condiments to ketchup (tomato based = veggie = healthy); snacked every night (ice cream, chocolate) after dinner because I was overall eating ‘healthier’; no veggies; no fruits, some water)

Ate Out: 2-3 times a week

Meal Frequency: Lunch sometimes & HUGE Dinner always (65% Refined Carbs 20% High Fat Protein 15% Sugar/Fat)

Habit: Ate until I was stuffed >50% of the time

Activity Level: No regular exercise or physical activity other than taking kiddos to the park & pushing them on swings about once a week.


2015 8-11 Now


I had surrendered completely to being overweight. After all I wasn’t obese – I can fit into rides at the amusement park. I can play with the kids without being out of breath. I was the average mom size. Even though I couldn’t bare to look at myself in the mirror for any length of time, avoided the camera like the plague, and dreaded clothes shopping, I ate mostly whatever I wanted with total disregard to portion size. It was my miserable-happiness. All was copacetic until I got a new job.

The new employer incentivized employees to get their annual physicals by reducing employee monthly health insurance contribution – for a family of four that was a hefty discount so off I went! My first annual physical since leaving the Army some 14 yrs prior. And boy did I get the shock of my life! My LDL was 115 (should be under 100) and my blood glucose was 101 (70-99 is norm). I was technically pre-diabetic. What a horrifying thought. Having been through training to sell diabetic medication, I saw first hand the complications of type 2 diabetes can do. Amputation, blindness, kidney, nerve, the list goes on and that scared me so bad that I downloaded MFP the very same day of the results and was bound & determined that I was going to give 110% effort in preventing the preventable. My goal was to get healthy!

95 lbs BMI: 19.9 [Normal weight = 18.5–24.9]

Your BMR is: 967 Calories/Day

Your TDEE is: 1498 Calories/Day

Eating Habits: (actual consumption 1100 – 1400)

Pizza no more than once a week; Chicken, Pork, & salmon – nothing breaded; Condiments: Fat free ranch, Fat free miracle whip, House Italian with lots of spices like cayenne pepper, paprika, chilli powder, & garlic for bold flavors; After dinner snack: if I’m hankering for a snack I opt for a toasted whole wheat english muffin w/ PB&J; Veggies with lunch & dinner; Whole Wheat everything; Fruits with breakfast & lunch; Green tea (w/fat free milk & sugar) & water only – No more than 10 calories a day from what I drink is my personal rule) Once or twice a year I have a Short (8 oz) White Chocolate Mocha Skinny (nonfat milk), No whipped cream. 175 calories and because it is a treat I really enjoy savoring it.

Eat Out: 1-2 times a month

Meal Frequency: Small Brkfst (just not a breakfast person), Solid Lunch, Good Size Dinner (75% veggies 24% Lean Protein 1% Condiments)

Habit: Eat until I am no longer hungry >90% of the time

Activity Level: Exercise 6 Days a Week: 30 minutes Cardio & 15-20 minutes Strength Trng

HB Sig

Dear Rice, Pizza, & Nachos Cheese Doritos;

Hello the Loves of my Life!

I regret that I have to end our long term torrid love affair as all of you will quite literally be the death of me someday. It’s not you, it’s me.

You see, standing all of 4’10”, at my heaviest of 156 lbs, I could no longer find clothes to accommodate my short stature and wide stance. I no longer found enjoyment in being in photographs nor could I sustain a gaze with my own eyes in the mirror. I was repulsed with how far I had fallen from my slim physique of old & how I had always taken it for granted. Frankly I had all but made peace with the fact that the fading of the ‘petite me’ was just the right of passage that all mothers had to travel.

I know what all of you are thinking, ‘oh this again, she’ll be back, she always comes back.’ But at last, no, no – this time it is for keeps. I will not be crawling back to eating a large bowl of fried rice after a hard week at work. I will not give way to eating half a New York sized pizza pie with pepperoni and sausage because the tomato sauce served as my serving of vegetable. I will not fall for the rapture of the finger licking goodness of the Family Sized Nachos Doritos that made watching even the most boring of television better. No, this time, it is different because it needs to be rather than a mere fancy of wanting to be.

To be what you may ask? Being skinny is overrated you may say. Ahhhhh I can hear all your arguments for maintaining status quo now. I know this is difficult to accept but I don’t want to be thin or skinny. I don’t care about being a size 2. I want to be healthy!

You can raise your eyebrows in disbelief if you want but I have come to realize that vanity itself was just a want, not a need. It’s like walking pass the Coach store tempted by the newest brilliant bag in the shop window and asking myself; do I want the Coach purse or do I need the Coach purse? Having grown up rather money stricken, I have almost an innate knack to discern a want from a need and fend off many materialistic temptations if I don’t absolutely need it. Oddly enough, this otherwise positive mentality intertwined itself with my subconscious in regards to my body; do I want to be thin or do I need to be thin?

But fate has shown me that I wanted to be thin but I needed to be healthy. This change of goal alleviated the pressure of the dreaded scale and it gave me the thirst & drive to succeed. All the times I told you guys that I was ‘busy’ I was really pouring hours into research. For the first time in my life I was introducing myself to a new relationship with food. I learned that moderation is key. I learned that the eminent banishment of any of my favorite foods was a formula for long term failure. Most importantly, I learned that no matter how long, how often, or how hard I train at the gym, I can not out-gym regular gluttony portions of you Rice, you Pizza, or you Nachos Cheese Doritos. And it is this very realization that I must send us on our separate ways and to ‘see other people.’

I have to admit that being Chinese / Mongolian descent, Rice, you will be the most difficult to part with as it was customary to see you at lunch and again at dinner. But I want you to know that I am very happy with Quinoa and hope that someday you can appreciate that knowledge has allowed me to find substitutions without sacrificing enjoyment. You would like Quinoa, maybe the both of you can hang out one day and be friends?

Anyway, I just wanted all of you to know that you will always be a part of my life but just in a far less frequent and diminished capacity. I have found substitutions or healthier versions of all of you and really hope that you will be happy for me.

Warmest Regards,

Former Pre-Diabetic

For Additional Posts About Healthy Choices: Fun Size Nation