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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Monday, January 30, 2012

"F" Is For Fat Intake and Flax Seeds

Thank goodness for this blog site. It has been forcing me to research  some of the more confusing issues we face at the grocery store each week.
Take the Omega 3 versus Omega 6 issue:

 Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the body to maintain certain functions and to aid in keeping you healthy. Each one has a different role in keeping your body performing at its absolute best.

Your body does not produce omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. A balanced diet provides proper amounts of omega-6, which helps with skin and hair growth, good bone health, and proper metabolism, as well as protects your reproductive capability. Omega 3 is harder to get through diet alone so many take a supplement to cover their daily needs.

Omega-6 is a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids that occur in vegetable oils, meats, eggs, certain nuts and beans. Omega-6 fatty acids are different from omega-3 fatty acids, one way being that if you over-consume the Omega 6, you can cause some serious health issues.

Most Western diets have too much omega-6 fatty acids, due to regularly eating large portions of meat. An imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can lead to heart disease, depression, asthma, arthritis, and cancer.If Omega 6 is consumed habitually in excessive amounts,it  can increase inflammation, blood clotting, and cell proliferation (meaning cancer).

If taken in proper amounts, Omega-6 fatty acid aids in reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and high blood pressure. It eases the symptoms of menopause, in particular breast pain or tenderness. It is also good for the sufferers of multiple sclerosis, and it also helps those diagnosed with ADHD. Add eczema, menstrual pain and breast cancer to the list of illnesses and diseases that omega-6 is helpful for preventing or treating. 

Omega-6 Foods

Omega-6 is found in meats, processed foods and oils such as soybean, corn, sunflower and cottonseed. Other foods high in omega-6 include pistachios, olive oil and olives.You will find them as key ingredients in snack foods, processed foods and fast foods. Also beware of some veggie burgers and granola bars! Eliminate or cut back on those foods to help reduce omega-6 levels. Foods that are naturally low in omega-6 fats include fruits and vegetables; beans; low-fat turkey slices; egg whites; lean fish such as tilapia, snapper and cod; and low omega-6 oils such as macadamia nut, coconut and fat-free mayonnaise.

Eat More

Healthy fats: raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, or avocados

Nutrients: colorful fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen, or canned, prepared without butter

Fiber: cereals, breads, and pasta made from whole grains or legumes

Omega 3 and protein: fish and shellfish, poultry

Calcium and protein: Egg whites, egg substitutes, skim or 1% milk, low-fat or nonfat cheeses or yogurt

Eat Less

Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods; saturated fats from whole-fat dairy or red meat
 Packaged foods of any kind, especially those high in sodium
White or egg breads, granola-type cereals, refined pastas or rice
Red meat, bacon, sausage, fried chicken. A serving should be only 3 ounces or less than the size of a deck of cards.
Egg yolks, whole or 2 percent milk, whole milk products like cheese or yogurt

Omega-3 fatty acid is found in abundance in fish or fish oils. This essential fatty acid has been found to reduce the incidence of heart disease, as well as a number of other illnesses or conditions. Omega-3 fatty acid plays a crucial role in the function of the brain and in normal growth development. It also stimulates hair and skin growth. A healthy diet of omega-3 fatty acids would include wheat germ, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with fish, a bit of olive oil, garlic, flax seed, walnuts and canola oil (in moderation). All of these are excellent sources of this fatty acid.

Dietary sources of EFAs
FoodOmega-3 (grams per100g)Omega-6 (grams per 100g)
Hemp seeds7.021.0
Pumpkin seeds3.223.4
Rape seed2.19.0
Olive oil0.67.9
Wheat germ0.55.5
Sunflower seeds030.7

 Omega-3 plays an important role in reducing different types of inflammation, while Omega-6 can often cause the inflammation to become even worse if over consumed.
Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol. Several other diseases are helped by the addition of an Omega-3 supplement.  Arthritis, lupus, osteoporosis, asthma, diabetes, irritable bowel disease, breast cancer and colon cancer are just some in a long list of ailments that can benefit from omega-3 fatty acid.

Another New Breast Cancer Study: Omega-6 Fat Increases Risk Two-fold in Large U.S. Study
Bottomline: Eating high levels of omega-6 fat (linoleic acid) increases the risk of developing breast cancer nearly 2-fold in genetically susceptible women.  Last month Swedish researchers found a similar risk.  Linoleic acid is the most common polyunsaturated fat in the American diet. 

Study Quote: “…our results suggest a role of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid pathway in breast cancer etiology.”

Comment: This study adds to the growing evidence of excessive omega-6 fat increasing the risk of breast cancer.  

I rest my case. Instead of olive oil, I now use coconut oil, available at the Health Food store. Coconut oil can be heated to high temperatures and comes in a solid form. I have successfully used it in place of animal fats like butter in baking, grilled cheese sandwiches and making white sauces. Get the non-flavoured variety so your grilled cheese doesn't have a coconut flavour!
We eat salmon two times a week, use Omega 3 fortified eggs and I sprinkle freshly ground flax seeds on everything but my toothbrush.

"F" Is For Flax Seeds

Okay, so you've just read about the importance of upping your Omega 3s and lowering the Omega 6's. But how to do that?
 I use avocado instead of mayonnaise on my sandwiches whenever possible to lower the Omega 6 andI take a fish oil supplement every morning. But the best thing I do is sprinkle the freshly ground flax seeds on my oatmeal to get more Omega 3.

Flax seed has been found to be preventative of breast cancer, says Dr. Lilian Thompson, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. It not only reduces the chance of the cancer germinating in the first place, it also slows the growth of established tumours.
It has also been noted to increase the effectiveness of Tamoxifen, the after-treatment drug for many estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients.

On that note alone, sign me up!
To be effective, whole flaxseeds must be ground within 24 hours of use, so the ingredients stay active. Flaxseeds are also available in ground form in a special mylar package so the components in the flaxseeds stay active.

Here are some of the documented benefits of eating flaxseed.
  • Relief from constipation: Eating 50 grams of flaxseed per day helped increase the frequency of bowel movements.
  • Lowered risk of heart disease: Women and men who ate 50 grams of ground flaxseed daily averaged a 9 percent drop in total cholesterol levels, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) decreased 18 percent, and serum lipids (fat in the blood) were 11-16 percent lower.
  • Lowered risk of cancer: Population studies of diet and disease risk suggest an anti-cancer role for flaxseed in both prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Keep in mind that these benefits come from raw, ground flaxseed, not flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is pure fat and virtually devoid of all or most of the nutrients found in ground flaxseed.
Ground flaxseeds can be added to almost anything you're making or baking. Keep them handy as a reminder and feel great knowing if there is a battle raging inside of you, you're doing the right things to help out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Interesting Enough To Come Back To...

It has taken me three weeks into January to get back into this driver's seat. Depression, whether you're medicated or not, can be like riding waves on a busted surfboard. Sometimes you fall off the board, sometimes you can ride the wave. Depends on everything- the weather, your mood that day, how you are treated, what the day throws at you, a memory that catches you off guard.
For the most part I'm doing okay. Then something sneaks up behind me and I'm on my knees. But I've still got the surfboard and it's going the right way.

So, I plan on continuing with the Alphabetical Cancer Prevention Blogs, but on a more realistic ONCE A MONTH basis.One less stress at the end of the week, especially during the ski season. I'll try and fill the rest of the month in with update blogs of what's up in our lives. I'll try to keep it interesting enough to come back to.

Surf's up everyone. Hang on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"E" Is For Exercise and Eggs

Whether we do it or not, we all know that exercising is good for us. But how much is enough to keep things like the cancer cooties at bay?

Women who strenuously exercise six or more hours per week  may reduce their risk of invasive breast cancer by 23 per cent compared to sedentary women, says a study in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.
"A woman's hormone levels naturally fluctuate throughout her life, and we have found that exercise likely offers protection against breast cancer regardless of a woman's stage in life," said the study's lead author, Brian Sprague, of the University of Wisconsin. "The take-home message for women should be that it is never too late to begin exercising."
High levels of estrogen have been linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women who exercise heavily tend to produce estrogen for a shorter time, lowering their exposure to the hormone over their lifetime, the researchers said.
It is also possible that exercise helps by preventing weight gain, regulating insulin sensitivity and changing immune function, the team said.
The benefits were only seen in women without a family history of breast cancer. Other risk factors for breast cancer were taken into account. 
While some studies have found a positive relationship between exercise and breast cancer, others have found no relationship at all. Either way, exercise is important for staying healthy and, when it comes to recovering from breast cancer, that's when exercise really becomes important.
Exercise had a positive effect on physical and psychological functioning of cancer patients while in treatment." Cancer patients who exercised experienced fat loss, a decrease in nausea and fatigue, higher self-esteem and better quality of life.

I can sure attest to that! Being fit before I got sick meant I was able to get back on my feet faster, which meant I was able to get those "feel good" endorphins working for me. That's important when you're in one of the more depressing stages of your life. Okay, one of the most depressing stages.
After checking with your doctor first, consider looking into Jill Forrest, a breast cancer survivor, who started Better Than Before Fitness, Ltd. Jill  has created the first rehabilitative/exercise video for breast cancer survivors. The video takes you through the first day after surgery to six weeks later and all participants are breast cancer survivors. Visit
for information about the video and to find answers to your questions about exercise.
Whatever exercise you choose, remember that moving your body can help heal both your mind and your body.
"E" Is For Eggs
Egg yolks are home to tons of essential but hard-to-get nutrients, including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast cancer (one yolk supplies 25% of your daily need) and antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Though many of us have shunned whole eggs because of their link to heart disease risk, there’s actually substantial evidence that for most of us, eggs are not harmful but healthy.
People with heart disease should limit egg yolks to two a week, but the rest of us can have one whole egg daily; research shows it won’t raise your risk of heart attack or stroke. Make omelets with one whole egg and two whites, and watch cholesterol at other meals.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Year...A New Purpose

Again, no installment for the Alphabetical Cancer Prevention blog this week. Life is still hair-straight- back with Mother Nature trying to disprove the Farmer's Almanac' s disheartening  prediction of a snowless, cold winter. It has been +2-4 and raining in town which turns to flurries on Hudson Bay Mountain. We haven't had a break from hard-core downhill skiing in 14 days. For the first time in my life, it's the joints beneath my knee caps that are singing. The constant pounding after the fresh tracks of powder have been chewed up and you are determined to keep the 20 to 30 year olds behind you instead of ahead poaching the little patches of left-over powder.  Slam, slam, slam across the quick forming moguls which jar your back and knees. My body has been taking quite a beating. But it feels good to be back doing what I do best! It's my new way of thinking...enjoy what you love while you can, if you can.

The snow is so deep in places that you must use your poles like rudders or balance beams, which at the end of the day becomes very sore on my surgery side. So I don't use my right pole when having to traverse. My left arm does all the work.

An update on the boob for all those seated at the edge of their chairs wondering what the NEXT outcome will be, is the MRI showed there was still fluid in the right breast. While in Terrace for my hysteroscope, I heard my BC surgeon DR. E was around so I asked the nurse to tell him that a younger woman wanted to flash her boobs for him. He came by, all smiles and squeezing my big toe like he does, and asked if he and a student could examine me. He was surprised to hear there was still fluid after a year and jiggled the breast with his ear bent over it to listen. He said it was probably good there was fluid, which would keep the breast inflated versus collapsed like my girlfriend's. She faces reconstruction.
After three weeks though, some shrinkage has occurred which I figure means the remaining fluid has hardened into scar tissue. It looks smaller than the left breast and doesn't fit my bra as well. I have quit wearing thin tight shirts, preferring thick ones that mask the deformity.
I still think its better than not having a breast at all, which is some women's choice. Not mine.

The anti-depressants work amazingly well...except for the side-effect of a low libido. The libido hasn't been back to normal since the surgeries,  over a year now. My side remains numb and uncomfortable. That can work against me, but, there are many days when the Old Deb returns and the saying "There's nothing like good food, fine wine and a bad girl"comes true for Barry.

I am sorry to say I have had three friends battle cancer over Christmas. One with a breast cancer recurrence who went through chemo and radiation, meaning the same bald Holiday for her that I went through in 2010. Another got to re-coop on the couch from a uterine-cancer forced hysterectomy and the third, the removal of two cancerous tumors and over 30 lymph nodes in her breast area.

And the beat goes on...

Meaning once the snowing slows down, I will be turning my attentions back to getting Running From The Cancer Cooties published and those Cancer Prevention blogs on track! Its my way of  helping the next woman in line.

Here's to a New Year and a new purpose in my life. I look at it as I had to go through breast cancer to discover how I could help the world be a better place. I'm sure I'm not the first person whose life has been changed for the better by surviving something so depletingly debilitating.

 But it's new for me and I welcome the chance to give back with open arms.
After skiing, of course!