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Breast Cancer Prevention - 6 Lifestyle Tips

According to the American Cancer Society, every three minutes, on average, another woman learns she has breast cancer. The good news is that there are several strategies that can help reduce risk. Try incorporating the following lifestyle changes into your daily routine:

  1. Get active. Regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes on most days) has been shown to be protective against breast cancer.
  2. Maintain your health care. Early detection is key: in addition to monthly self examinations, women between ages 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast exam performed by a health care professional at least every three years; women 40 years of age or older should have annual breast exams and talk with their doctor about mammograms.
  3. Supplement wisely. Folic acid, vitamin D and antioxidants all may help decrease risk.
  4. Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens. These chemicals with estrogen-like activity are found in common pesticides and industrial pollutants and as hormone residues in meat, poultry and dairy products.
  5. Avoid exposure to radiation. Limiting the number of chest X-rays you receive, especially at a young age, may decrease the risk of breast cancer.
  6. Talk with your doctor. If you have close relatives with breast cancer, your personal risk is increased. Let your doctor know your family history, and discuss other ways you can help to prevent breast cancer.

More details on lowering breast cancer risk.


Dr. Weil in Pummelvision (Video)

Using Pummelvision, I've transformed my photo collections on Flickr into this fun, fast-paced video. Enjoy!

Make your own at


Feeling Dizzy?

If you often feel dizzy or faint after standing up, consider having your blood pressure checked. Low blood pressure (hypotension) is often due to dehydration, but can also be the result of sodium loss, abnormal heart rhythms, neurological disorders or overly aggressive drug treatment for high blood pressure. Low blood pressure can result in dizziness, lightheadedness or even fainting.

To help address dizziness, you may want to stand or sit up more slowly, and have a person or piece of furniture nearby for support when you do. Any qualified healthcare provider, or even the staff at a local fire station, can perform a simple blood pressure check in minutes.

Learn more about the symptoms, causes and treatment of low blood pressure.


Stress Relief: Flower Remedies

Stress can negatively impact your physical health, mood and social interactions. One way to help address the symptoms of stress is with passion flower (Passiflora incarnata). The dried above-ground parts of the plant can be found in tincture and extract form - look for standardized whole-plant extracts or capsules containing no less than 0.8 percent flavonoids or isovitexin. You can use passion flower for stress reduction, calming without sedation and relief from insomnia (when combined with other sedative herbs). One dropperful of the tincture in a little warm water, or two capsules of extract, up to four times a day as needed is the adult dosage; children should take half that amount. Use caution if you’re also taking MAO-inhibiting antidepressant drugs, and do not take passion flower when pregnant - active compounds may be uterine stimulants.

More ways to reduce stress.


How Do You Cook Your Veggies? (Poll)

Here is a Q&A on the pros and cons of microwaving. I use a microwave only for the defrosting or rapid reheating of leftovers.

What's your preference?


Yoga Practice: To Prop or Not?

Even the ancient arts - including yoga - are not immune from evolution. While original yogis did not use props such as sticky mats (foam mats with non-skid backing), foam blocks (pillow-like aids to cushion joints), or D rings (straps with D-shaped metal adjustment rings, used to help achieve or hold difficult poses), some modern practitioners find that props help them to ease into new moves, master more difficult poses or deepen their experience.

When deciding about props, consider the following:

  • Why are you using them?
  • Can your body do without them?
  • Are you willing to let them go at some point?

If you're a stickler for tradition, you can still benefit from age-old methods of stabilizing your body such as using a wall or the assistance of another person, to enrich your yoga experience.

To learn more about yoga props, click here.


Winter Sun Threat

Just because the beach weather is behind us in most of the country doesn't mean you can forego sunscreen. A research team from San Diego State University analyzed data gathered at 32 high-altitude ski resorts and found that if you're outdoors in the winter, particularly at high altitudes, you need to be concerned about ultraviolet (UV) protection. While average UV levels at the resorts were moderately low, they varied substantially by altitude and increased as hours of daylight lengthened, peaking close to noon. Investigators found that the majority of adults they interviewed weren't focused on appropriate sun protection - lip balm with sunscreen, applying sunscreen a half hour before skiing, wearing gloves and a hat with a brim. As UV levels increased, however, the research team found that the skiers and snowboarders at the resorts were more likely to wear sunscreen, reapply it two hours later and wear sunglasses or goggles. Men were more likely to use sunscreen than women. But overall, the researchers found the ski resort guests were more intent on wearing warm clothing than they were on sun protection. The study was published in the November, 2010, issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

My take? While it is important to protect yourself from UV rays when you are outdoors - winter or summer - it is also important to take advantage of the positive effects sunlight has on health. I've been following the advice of my friend and colleague Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., an expert on vitamin D and author of The UV Advantage (iBooks, 2003). Dr. Holick recommends spending at least a half-hour every day in the sun before applying sunscreen.

More on how much sun you need.


Health Benefits of Wine and Cheese?

One satisfying way to celebrate nourishing the body is with a glass of red wine and some cheese. The health benefits of red wine are plentiful: it has powerful antioxidant properties that are derived from the red pigments in grape skins (members of a family of compounds called proanthocyanidins); it contains tannins that can help reduce the risk of heart attack by hindering the formation of blood clots; and studies have shown that red wine can raise levels of HDL, the protective form of cholesterol.

While I rarely drink red wine myself, I do think it's beneficial for some people. I recommend organic red wine, and limiting your intake to no more than 1-2 servings per day (if you do not drink alcohol, do not start for health reasons).

Cheese, I do enjoy. While I used to eat cheese sparingly (and with some guilt) because of its fat content and effect on cholesterol levels, research on its health benefits has led me to incorporate more cheese into my diet, as it’s a natural source of calcium and protein. Soft French cheeses tend to be higher in fat, so eat them prudently – healthier options include organic, natural cheeses such as Emmental (Swiss), Jarlsberg and true Parmesan. Just a small amount of cheese offers a big taste, so a piece or two should be satisfactory.

Why not enjoy some Eggplant-Walnut Pâté with your wine and cheese?