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    Mammograms Are Essential – So Why Are So Many Women Skipping Them?

    According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), it’s far better to have an early-stage diagnosis, as it results in better breast cancer treatment and long-term survival. The only way to get an early diagnosis? Checking your breasts regularly at home, and making sure you attend your scheduled mammograms. But there are so many mammogram myths that scores of women are opting out of this practice. An informal survey amongst women who are hesitant to go even though they have the means to go shows that the top reasons include thinking it’s painful, having fear of radiation and being afraid of that Big C diagnosis.

    Plus, skipping just one screening can increase a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer, per a study of half a million Swedish women.

    Since mammograms are essential, we’ve broken through a few of the myths and addressed them, courtesy of the radiologists at SCP Radiologist Practice and Dr Lizanne Langenhoven, who specialises in the treatment of breast cancer. Here’s what you really need to know about mammograms.

    Myth #1: Mammograms are too painful

    Many women still rely on their mother’s experience with early mammograms which were painful. Mammography machines have progressed exponentially since the early days, so the level of discomfort experienced during the procedure is now significantly reduced. Modern technology and digital equipment allow us to use less compression and still obtain quality imaging. Also, the amount of pressure is different for each individual, depending on the breast size and composition. Pressure is often manually adjusted so speak to your mammographer if you experience any discomfort.

    READ MORE: Getting A Mammogram: What To Know, Even If You’re Young

    Myth #2: Mammograms mean exposure to cancer-causing radiation

    A mammogram uses relatively low-dose radiation. The total dose is approximately 0.5 mSv (2D mammogram). To put that into perspective, we are exposed to 3.0 mSv of background radiation from our natural surroundings per year. Radiologists also strictly follow what’s known as the ALARA principle – to always apply radiation “as low as reasonably achievable”. Clearly, the benefits of this screening tool vastly outweigh the actual low-dose radiation.

    Myth #3: You don’t need a mammogram if you go for thermography

    At present, thermography cannot substitute mammography but may be used as complementary screening. Dr Langenhoven cautions that thermography is not all it is cut out to be. In order for the cancer to give off heat signals, it has to be significant in size. Mammography on the other hand can detect changes in the breast before they progress to cancer. A mammogram therefore picks up the disease course much sooner than thermography.

    READ MORE: 8 Breast Cancer Myths You NEED To Stop Believing

    Myth #4: Ultrasounds are safer

    “Mammography is our workhorse.  We look for masses, calcifications, and architectural distortion,” says Dr Langenhoven. “Ultrasound is a supplementary investigation used to further evaluate morphology, blood flow, consistency of masses, and lymph nodes that are abnormal on a mammogram.” Tomosynthesis, a type of X-ray, is also supplementary, used to further evaluate architectural distortion seen on a mammogram. They all work together. With denser breasts mammography is less sensitive, which is when we add the supplementary investigations to improve the sensitivity of detection.

    Myth #5: I can’t have a mammogram I have breast implants

    Yes, you can, is the short answer. If you have breast implants the compression and positioning are adjusted. The amount of pressure is equivalent to sleeping on your stomach. Modern technology means there is a very low risk of implant rupture or damage. It is usually combined with ultrasound for better evaluation of the implants.

    READ MORE: 11 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Women That Aren’t Lumps

    Myth #6: If am diagnosed with breast cancer I am going to die anyway. So I would rather not find out

    Perhaps the biggest and most harmful myth of all. The truth is that we’re in a period of time where 90% of women with early breast cancer can be cured of their disease, says Dr Langenhoven. “In the same way we don’t drive cars from the ’50s, our treatment is no longer ancient either!” she remarks.

    “The good news is that our understanding of the different subtypes of breast cancer has improved significantly over the past few years! We no longer follow a one-type-fits-all approach and many women may even safely be spared chemotherapy in a curative setting,” she says.  

    “As with everything else in life, it is easier to address a ‘small’ or ‘early’ problem than it is to address a much larger problem! I’ve seen breast cancer diagnosed at a size of 2mm on a mammogram – meaning that treatment is tailored to a very low-risk situation. In short, the earlier we become aware of an existing problem, the sooner it can be addressed and with much less invasive treatment.”

    Added to that, the side-effect profiles of our new drugs improve the quality of life during treatment. And the fact that we now identify and treat four distinct subtypes of breast cancer means that we can target the specific growth pattern at play and avoid unnecessary treatment. In short, modern medicine means your chances of dying of breast cancer are reduced. But screenings are still the champion in our fight against breast cancer.

    Different screenings for breast cancer

    “When you consider that around 90% of women find their own breast lumps, it is a very important part of the screening process,” says Dr Langenhoven. “Although 80 percent of these lumps are not malignant, there are cases where women owe their lives to their own self-examination.”


    A mammogram involves breast imaging using low-dose X-rays to form a 2D image. The advantage? It often reveals abnormalities undetected in a clinical breast examination. Four images are taken, two of each breast. The breast is lightly compressed for less than 1 minute during the examination to improve diagnostic accuracy.


    This is a form of 3D mammography and uses X-rays as well as sophisticated software to create a 3D image of the breast. It is considered better at detecting cancer and reducing false positives in dense breast tissue.  It is invaluable in problem-solving and is used in combination with 2D mammography.

    Breast ultrasound

    Ultrasound is a supplementary investigation used to further evaluate morphology, blood flow, and consistency of masses and lymph nodes that are abnormal mammography.  It uses no radiation but rather real-time imaging, using sound waves to create an image. It’s a slightly longer process and is also valuable in problem-solving. It is used in combination with a mammogram not in place of it.


    The digital MR image uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves but no radiation. You will receive an intravenous injection and then lie on your stomach, in an MRI ‘tunnel’ for around 45 minutes.  An MRI for breast screening is usually used for problem-solving, high-risk screening and for women who have breast implants.


    Your doctor might recommend a breast biopsy when a suspicious area is found in your breast, like a breast lump or other signs and symptoms of breast cancer. It is also used to investigate unusual findings on a mammogram, ultrasound, or other breast examination.


    Thermography is a test that uses an infrared camera to detect heat patterns and blood flow in body tissues. Digital infrared thermal imaging (DTI) is the type of thermography that can be used to show these patterns and flow in the breasts. More

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    How To *Actually* Lose Belly Fat With Diet And Exercise

    How to lose belly fat remains one of the top searches on our site. Everyone seems to want to get rid of their pooches, for myriad reasons. And while that may not be you, the science warns that the more fat in the belly, the more health risks become apparent. You should never feel the need to lose weight unless you actually want to. But stomach fat in particular can be harmful.

    “Stomach fat is not a good idea,” says Dr Tracy Nelwamondo, a weight loss GP. “We advise to keep abdominal circumference less than 88cm. This is not only for cosmetic reasons, but we find this puts you less at risk of disease.”

    Meet The Experts: Dr Tracy Nelwamondo is a weight loss GP and Roystinn Davids is a personal trainer.

    What are the health risks of belly fat?

    Fat cells in your stomach are made of two main kinds. The one you can see when you squeeze your tummy is known as subcutaneous fat and sits on the outer edge of your organs. The more worrying fat is the kind that lies deep within the abdomen, known as visceral fat. They’re biologically active cells that are linked to a host of chemicals in your body, further linking to a wide variety of diseases.

    Subcutaneous fat is linked to a higher proportion of beneficial molecules, while visceral fat is less so. It’s made up of proteins called cytokines, which when triggered, set off low-level inflammation in the bod. The risk? Heart disease and other chronic conditions, like dementia, asthma and even breast cancer.

    Per Harvard University, a waist circumference of 88cm or higher is considered a sign of excess visceral fat – but it may not apply to you if your overall body size is large. A better indication is an expanding waistline.

    READ MORE: Here’s Why It’s Important To Lose That Belly Fat

    So it’s clear that this kind of fat in your bod is dangerous, losing your gut can be more easier spoken about than done. But we’ve rounded up the expert advice, coupled with research, to determine the exact steps to take to minimise belly fat and keep your body healthy. The good news, per research, visceral fat responds better to diet and exercise than the fat you collect on your butt and hips.

    Exercise for belly fat

    Studies show that in order to nix belly fat, you need to be training for at least 30 minutes on most days. That includes long walks or casual spins on the stationary bike. Added to that, Dr Nelwamondo recommends at least two days of resistance training. That’s because resistance training builds muscle, which in turn works to burn fat – and it’s metabolically more active than fat tissue is.

    READ MORE: The 3 Most Important Changes To Make If You’re Trying To Lose Belly Fat

    Ab workouts won’t melt belly fat

    Keep in mind that it’s simply not possible to train only your midsection if you’re looking to lose stomach fat. Spot-training doesn’t work, and in fact, fat is breathed out from the body when you’re working out and your heart rate is high. So look to workouts where your entire body is working hard and your heart rate is higher. “There is no magic, overnight solution for losing belly fat,” says Roystinn Davids, personal trainer. “The best way to shed excess weight is by making permanent lifestyle changes. This often involves a combination of diet, exercise, stress management and other strategies.”

    Examples of fat-burning exercises include:





    Group fitness classes

    Your belly fat nixing move

    Davids recommends 20 minutes of cardio, followed by strength training. He recommends the following strength training moves to help shift the needle:


    inverted rows



    power cleans

    “Do eight reps of each, for four sets. Rest for one minute in between sets,” says Davids. When training, don’t discount the power of planking. “A plank is Ideal for losing belly fat because it engages multiple muscles at the same time, increasing metabolic rate and benefiting core strength,” he says.  

    READ MORE: Try This 7-Minute Fat-Blasting Workout

    Eating for less belly fat

    “Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats,” says Davids. “Choosing healthy options like these can make it easier to ensure you get the proper amount of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.”

    Eliminate processed food

    While that’s easy enough to do, indulging in processed foods like chips and sodas should be avoided when trying to eliminate stubborn belly fat. “Generally, better eating always consists of incorporating fibre and protein and reducing ultra-processed foods, keeping them as an indulgence in moderation instead of making them a daily habit,” warns Dr Nelwamondo. Also, look at your hydration levels and make sure you’re not dousing your system with sweetened drinks, which spike your glycaemic load and allow fat deposits to collect.

    Get specific with your intake

    Per the American Diabetes Association, there are also specific tweaks you could make to ensure you’re eating just enough to lower your risk of holding onto belly fat. That includes:

    Keeping the total fat to only 20 to 30 percent of your overall calorie intake (calorie tracking apps like My Fitness Pal help with this)

    Keeping saturated fat to less than seven percent of your overall calorie intake (watch the fries!)

    Limiting harmful trans fats, found in doughnuts and other fried foods.

    This means that if your daily caloric intake is at 2000, 700 calories should come from fat (about 77g) and only 140 from saturated fat (around 15g). Added to this, make sure to prioritise protein in your diet. Per observational studies, people who eat more protein have less abdominal fat than those with a low-protein diet.

    READ MORE: 5 Ways To Burn More Fat During Your Walking Workouts

    Lifestyle tips for excess belly fat

    Quit smoking

    Seriously! Even vaping moves the needle towards a larger waistline. Per studies, heavy smoking increases insulin resistance and is associated with increased fat deposits in the midsection. In another study published by PLOS One, authors note that among smokers, there appears to be “more metabolically adverse fat distributions”. Translation: the heavier the smoker you are, the more harmful your fat can be.

    Sleep well

    Never getting to sleep at a reasonable time? If you always find yourself in sleep debt, this could be one thing that is contributing towards your expanding waistline. Per one study, a lack of sleep majorly boosts the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases the hormone leptin, which suppresses your appetite. The result? You’re constantly hungry, leading to overeating.

    Another 2022 study found that among people who slept only four hours a night had a nine percent increase in subcutaneous fat and an 11 percent increase in abdominal visceral fat, compared to people who got nine hours of shut-eye.

    READ MORE: Is Your Sleep Schedule Making You Fat?

    Boost your mood

    Per studies, people with larger bellies have an increased risk for both anxiety and depression. Plus, another study found that the older you get and the more body fat you accumulate, the less mental flexibility you’ll have. That mental flexibility refers to reasoning, thinking laterally and problem-solving.

    It goes the other way, too: long-term stress is linked to increased abdominal fat. There are tons of ways to find your way to a calmer – and hopefully slimmer – bod. Try meditation, journalling, exercise (it really does wonders) and delegating more tasks.

    The good news? It turns out that people who meditate are less likely to be obese and have less belly fat, per one study. That might be because getting zen lowers cortisol levels and regulates emotions, leading to less emotional eating. More

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    Cycle Syncing: How (And Why!) To Tweak Your Workouts, Diet And More Around Your Menstrual Cycle

    Until recently, I’d been on some form of birth control since I was 13 (I’m 32 now). Now that I’ve stopped popping a little pill every day, I’m learning that while I may have skipped some of the not-so-fun aspects of a regular cycle (cramps and bloating, anyone?), I also didn’t get to experience the powerful parts, like bursts of energy and strength.

    I also never learned how to support my body through its various shifts. With periods making a consistent appearance again, I want to do all I can to have as pleasant an experience as possible. Enter: cycle syncing, a buzzy concept that has nothing to do with getting your period at the same time as a friend.

    What is cycle syncing?

    Cycle syncing is the idea of matching how you eat, work, exercise and recover to the stages of your menstrual cycle. You may have heard about tailoring your fitness routine to each phase—this is the same idea, but expanded into other facets of life.

    This general practice has been around for a while, but the term itself is newer. Female athletes, coaches and researchers have realised that athletic performance changes with hormonal shifts throughout the month and training can be tweaked accordingly. So, the weeks when a woman has higher stamina may include harder workouts and times marked by less energy are more recovery-focused. (More on this in a minute!)

    READ MORE: Cycle Syncing Sex: 28 Days Of The Best Sex Of Your Life

    What are the benefits of cycle syncing?

    Anyone who has a cycle can benefit, but it’s especially useful for the following issues, says Dr Jessica Ritch, a minimally invasive gynaecologist and medical advisor for Elix herbal supplements.

    Optimising your routine around your cycle can ease discomfort leading up to and during menstruation, like low mood, cramps, diarrhoea, bloating and acne. The result? A happier, more stable you.

    How To Start Cycle Syncing By Phase

    Once you know the stages—menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation and luteal phase—you can adjust your routine. While there isn’t a ton of research on this trend, studies on individual practices as well as anecdotal evidence point to the merits. Here, a map for riding the wave at every stage.


    Each cycle starts with menstruation (i.e., when you see red). Levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone drop, which causes the thickened lining of your uterus to shed and may lead to cramping and bloating. The cells that form the uterine lining begin to break down and flood your system with inflammatory substances called prostaglandins, the culprit behind cramps and inflammation.

    Food Focus

    “It’s important to replenish the nutrients you lose during bleeding,” says Dr. Ritch, so eat foods high in iron and vitamin B12, as well as those with anti-inflammatory properties. When iron levels are low, cramps can be worse, likely because iron helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to muscles. Load up on iron-rich dark leafy greens, nuts, lean red meats, egg yolks, lentils and clams, as well as foods high in vitamin C, such as broccoli, citrus, strawberries and bell peppers, to optimise iron absorption, says registered dietician Melissa Groves Azzaro.

    Consider spicing up your meals and drinks with turmeric and cinnamon, which can tame that internal fire too. High-fibre foods as well as ginger help regulate the dreaded “period poops,” says Dr. Ritch. Also key: Magnesium, found in favourites like dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds, pulls double duty in promoting better sleep and reducing muscle cramping in the uterus and bowels.

    Workout Focus

    When it comes to cramps, “I recommend movement, but nothing strenuous,” says Dr. Ritch. Think: yoga and walking…or whatever feels good. “Recovery is also really important during this time to help with inflammation,” she adds.

    Life Focus

    Women who get fewer than seven hours of sleep or go to bed after 11 p.m. are more likely to experience cramps during their cycle, per a meta-analysis from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. This is a good time to make adequate shut-eye a must (though it should be all month long, as you know!).

    READ MORE: Pop Quiz: Do You Actually Know What’s Going On With Your Vagina?

    Follicular Phase & Ovulation

    The former starts on the first day of your period (it overlaps with menstruation) and continues until you ovulate. Your body releases follicle-stimulating hormone, which tells the ovaries to grow and prepare eggs for ovulation. Throughout this stage, oestrogen levels climb, leading to a thickening of the uterus to get ready to host the egg. This phase lasts for roughly 16 days and is usually smooth sailing symptom-wise (once you’re past the earlier cramps, etc.).

    Then ovulation occurs as rising oestrogen levels trigger the release of luteinising hormone, which causes your ovary to release a mature egg. This is signalled by a slight uptick in body temp—usually right in the middle of your cycle.

    Food Focus

    Ovulation can be ouch-inducing for some and omega-3 fatty acids may offer relief by decreasing inflammation. Go for fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Not a fan of seafood? Opt for plant-based sources like walnuts and chia. Just one serving two or three times a week will boost your levels almost immediately and throughout the month, says Azzaro.

    Ground flaxseed (2 to 4 tablespoons daily) and mix into smoothies or yoghurt parfaits. This can also help regulate hormonal ups and downs. “This is something I recommend for symptoms of high or low oestrogen, as well as high androgens, as seen with PCOS,” says Azzaro. Flax contains plant-based omega-3s and phytoestrogens called lignans that help balance hormones.

    Workout Focus

    The peak in oestrogen and release of testosterone during ovulation can boost sex drive and energy. The rise in both hormones also increases your pain tolerance, says Dr. Ritch. In other words, this is a great time to pursue heavier lifts, HIIT workouts, or endurance training, since you can exercise harder with more ease. Nice!

    Life Focus

    The later follicular phase, right before ovulation, is the time to really go for it in your career and social life. This is when people typically feel their best, says Dr. Ritch. During this window, many women feel less fatigued on fewer hours of sleep. “Whatever event will take the most energy that month, like a work presentation or a big party, this is a good time to schedule it,” she says.

    READ MORE: Here’s EXACTLY How To Skip Your Period Every Month

    Luteal Phase

    This begins after ovulation and loops back to menstruation—and it’s admittedly “a crappy time for people who have symptomatic periods,” says Dr. Ritch. The decline in oestrogen and rise in progesterone can lead to breast tenderness, migraines, bloating and digestive issues such as diarrhoea and constipation. PMS symptoms start popping up due to an increase in cortisol and a decrease in serotonin. Feeling sad and experiencing trouble with concentration are common during this roughly 14-day span.

    Food Focus

    You feel low, so you turn to coffee, alcohol and doughnuts for a lift, but they can have the opposite effect. The drinks lead to dehydration and the sugary and salty foods fuel inflammation. Instead, reach for high-fibre, slow-digesting carbs like quinoa, grains and potatoes to stay full longer and nix cravings.

    FYI: Vitamin B6 and calcium are your shields against severe PMS symptoms. “You can get calcium from dairy and leafy greens like bok choy and collard greens and B6 is found in salmon, chicken and chickpeas,” Azzaro says. Need additional help? The same nutrition advice for alleviating discomfort during menstruation is handy here too.

    Workout Focus

    Cardio performance tends to suffer during this time due to the spike in cortisol and drop in serotonin. The progesterone rise can lead to water retention that makes you want to curl up in bed instead of hitting the gym. If you want to keep moving, Dr Ritch recommends strength training, walking, or yoga during this time. It’s okay if your body is leaning toward gentler movement or favours recovery. A little push: Know that activity can be beneficial for combating low moods that come along.

    Life Focus

    Staying calm is essential, as cortisol is already higher than normal and research shows that added life stress can contribute to period cramping. So get your favourite restorative rituals on the calendar, whether they’re a call with a friend, a movie night, a group dinner out, or extra journaling or meditation time.

    This article, written by Kristin Canning, was originally published in the May/June 2023 issue of Women’s Health US. More

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    Is Psyllium Husk A Cheap Ozempic Alternative? Dieticians Explain The Fibre Supplement’s Benefits (And Limits)

    Ozempic has been a buzzy medication for more than a year. The prescription type 2 diabetes drug caught fire on social media after people said they lost significant amounts of weight on it. Then, a slew of speculation surfaced online that certain celebrities were using Ozempic off-label for weight loss.

    The medication has faced shortages for months. And because it’s designed to be used for people with type 2 diabetes, most health insurances won’t cover it off-label (i.e. weight loss).

    Plus, you need a prescription, which requires a trip to your doctor’s office, hanging in the waiting room for ages and more hassle. It’s no surprise, then, that plenty of people are looking for a less expensive and more easily accessible alternative to Ozempic.

    Enter psyllium husk.

    Dubbed “the poor man’s Ozempic,” this fibre supplement is suddenly getting a lot of attention. But what is psyllium husk and is it ~actually~ like Ozempic?

    Meet the experts: Jessica Cording, R.D., is the author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. Keri Gans, R.D., is the author of The Small Change Diet.

    Women’s Health went straight to registered dieticians to answer all your questions about the so-called “natural Ozempic.”

    What is psyllium husk?

    Psyllium husk is a type of fibre—specifically, soluble fibre, which means it attracts water and turns to gel when it’s being digested, explains Jessica Cording, R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.

    “It’s typically used as a fibre supplement,” she says.

    Psyllium husk is found in the seeds of a herb grown in India called Plantago ovata, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet.

    What are the psyllium husk health benefits?

    There are a few different perks of psyllium husk, Gans says, including:

    Constipation relief

    Blood sugar management

    Lowered cholesterol

    “Sometimes you’ll see it in the context of weight management products or supplements for weight loss because the fibre helps you to stay full,” Cording says.

    READ MORE: ‘Nature’s Ozempic’: What Are The Benefits Of Berberine?

    Can you lose weight by taking psyllium husk?

    If we’re looking for Ozempic-level weight loss, the answer is no.

    “If someone is making other changes to their nutritional intake or their exercise routine and they’re using psyllium husk as part of that, it can be supportive of weight management because of the impacts on fullness and blood sugar regulation,” Cording says. “But just introducing psyllium husk is not enough to cause weight loss.”

    Gans says you might lose a little weight while taking psyllium husk, simply because you’ll be more satisfied.

    “Fiber, overall, may help with satiety,” she says. “The more satisfied and full a person feels at mealtimes, the less likely they are to overeat.”

    Is psyllium husk safe?

    In general, yes.

    “For most individuals, psyllium husk is completely safe,” Gan says. “However, if on any medications or being treated for an illness, one should always check with their primary physician before adding any supplements to their diet.”

    You can also overdo it on psyllium husk or any type of fibre, Cording says.

    “As with anything, too much of a good thing is possible,” she says. “Some can be beneficial, but you don’t want to go above and beyond the recommended dosing.”

    READ MORE: How To Lose Weight If You Don’t Know Where To Start, According To A Dietician

    Can you take it every day?

    Yup, you can take psyllium husk every day if you want, Gans says. Be sure to follow the recommended dosing on the label.

    If you’re new to fibre supplements, it’s best to start with a small amount, like ½ teaspoon in a 250ml glass of water once a day, according to Mount Sinai. Then, you can gradually increase your dosing as needed.

    Does psyllium husk work like Ozempic?

    Not really. Ozempic mimics a protein present in your own body called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and activates GLP-1 receptors in your body, Cording explains. The activation of these receptors causes an increase in insulin, which helps escort glucose to your cells, where it’s converted to energy.

    Ozempic also slows your digestion, making you feel fuller, longer, and therefore less likely to overeat. Psyllium husk works differently in your body.

    “Everything is being called the ‘new Ozempic,’” Cording says. “Psyllium husk can help with reducing blood sugar and it can help you to feel more full so you may not be as prone to snacking or eating quite as much. But it’s not the same as Ozempic.”

    What kind of side effects might you have when consuming psyllium husks?

    The biggest risk is the risk of developing gas.

    “If a person is not used to consuming fibre in their diet, it may cause gas and bloating at the start,” Gans says. “Therefore, I would recommend starting slowly, less than the recommended dose and also drinking plenty of water to help acclimate one’s body.”

    You can even end up constipated if you take too much psyllium husk and not enough water, Cording says—so make sure you’re having plenty of H2O if you use the supplement.

    Overall, experts say psyllium husk can be a supplement worth your time—just check in with your doctor first. And manage your expectations.

    “A supplement can be part of a comprehensive approach to weight management but it’s not the end all, be all, Cording says. “Most healthcare providers also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes.”

    This article was originally published by Korin Miller on Women’s Health. More

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    “I Conquered Ovarian Cancer And Breast Cancer At The Same Time.”

    “You can decide to let your cancer diagnosis get the better of you or you can choose to fight. There was no other option for me but to fight,” says Robyn Frick, Teamhead Commercial Marketing for PUMA. And fight she did, when in January 2023 Robyn was diagnosed with both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. This is how she went into combat with “The Big C” and came out a champion.

    Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer And Ovarian Cancer At The Same Time

    “With any diagnosis, hearing that you have cancer comes as quite a shock. This diagnosis would be my second, and little did I know it would be a double whammy,” recalls Robyn. During a 2023 routine check-up, doctors discovered the ovarian cancer she’d been diagnosed with in 2013 had come back. And while undergoing tests, they discovered Robyn also had breast cancer. She had two large lumps in her right breast which had not been visible during a mammogram 6 months prior.

    What’s The Treatment For Fighting Two Separate Cancers?

    “Fighting two different cancers at the same time is somewhat unique,” explains Robyn. “They both require different treatment plans that ideally coincide so one cancer isn’t left to its own devices but that in itself is tricky.”

    Usually, doctors have to make a decision; which cancer they will treat first. In an ideal (albeit rare) circumstance, if the two cancers share characteristics they could respond to the same targeted drug or chemotherapy plan. 

    READ MORE: 11 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Women That Aren’t Lumps

    How Common Is It?

    According to WebMD, researchers estimate around 1 in 20 people with cancer have another separate cancer at the same time. “At the same time” is defined as two tumours that occur within less than 6 months of each other.

    Robyn’s Treatment Plan For Fighting Breast Cancer And Ovarian Cancer

    After consulting with a panel of oncologists and surgeons, Robyn’s oncologist came up with the best treatment plan possible. They would tackle her ovarian cancer first – the chemotherapy would treat the breast cancer at the same time – then her breast cancer.

    Her oncology treatment plan included:

    Chemotherapy: 6 cycles of chemo (carboplatin and paclitaxel) which was administered every three weeks and took 6 hours per session.

    Mastectomy: The chemotherapy was followed by a bilateral mastectomy (and immediate reconstruction which she elected for)

    Radiation: Then 5 weeks of radiation with 5 sessions per week.

    A PARP Inhibitor: Before Robyn started with chemo, she consulted with a Geneticist. This was to determine if she carries one of the BRCA gene mutations, which she does – BRCA-1. This opened up the opportunity for her to take a PARP Inhibitor (a type of targeted cancer drug) for post-treatment support. She will take this for the next two years.

    “Alongside my oncology treatment plan, I have a holistic treatment plan which will continue for years to come,” she says.

    Her holistic treatment plan includes:

    Supplements: She takes supplements targeted at her specific cancer

    A special diet: This diet excludes wheat, gluten, sugar and dairy

    Rife Therapy sessions: Rife machines produce low electromagnetic energy waves similar to radio waves

    Vitamin C drips: IV drips quickly increase the levels of ascorbic acid (or Vitamin C) in your blood.


    Spirituality: Robyn is tapping into her spiritual side

    The Biggest Out-Of-Pocket Expense

    With Robyn’s particular cancer, she qualified for a drug called Lynparza – a PARP Inhibitor. In her first consultation with her oncologist, she mentioned this drug would become part of Robyn’s post-chemo treatment plan if she was able to upgrade her medical aid to one of the top plans.

    If not, she would be facing a monthly cost of roughly R90,000 for the next two years.

    “Thankfully I was fortunate enough to be able to do the upgrade, and that monthly cost when compared to the price of the drug is nominal,” she says. 

    READ MORE: My Experience With Breast Cancer, At Age 27

    Inspirational Words For Anyone Who Has Received A Cancer Diagnosis

    “You can decide to let your cancer diagnosis get the better of you or you can choose to fight. There was no other option for me but to fight. Was it hard? Absolutely! Having to deal with a second cancer diagnosis and questioning why it happened to me in the first place, would treatment work this time around, how severe was my cancer diagnosis, had it spread through my whole body? Constant doctor’s visits, undergoing tests, treatments, it becomes exhausting. Losing my hair, losing my breasts, those are two things that define who you are as a woman, right?”

    “But if you choose to fight, you know your hair will grow back, you know that you will have the option for reconstruction (should you choose to do so), and you know that life is about so much more than those things.”

    “Focusing on one day at a time, being present in the moment, the support and love from my family, friends, colleagues, my medical team, even a whole lot of strangers, has definitely made my journey and the bigger picture that little bit easier.”

    You Are More Than Your Diagnosis: 

    “I don’t want my cancer diagnosis to define who I am. While it has forever changed my life and I am grateful to have survived it, I view it as a small part of my journey here on this earth and so many other amazing things have happened in my life which need to be celebrated,” says Robyn.

    Advice For Those Currently Experiencing Breast Cancer

    Take It Step By Step

    “It may sound like a cliché but take one moment at a time – one minute, one hour, one day. This is a journey not a race, so be kind to yourself. You will feel like you again.”

    Rely On Your Circle

    Robyn suggests surrounding yourself with the people who make you laugh, smile and who see you for who you are. On the hard days, let them carry the weight for you. And on the good days, invite them to celebrate with you.

    Do Your Own Research

    Robyn says you should investigate alternative therapies which can live alongside your treatment plan. But she emphasises that you make sure it is done with someone who specialises in cancers. “I have my wing chick and honestly could not have done this without her by my side – I am beyond grateful for her, her knowledge and her passion to find a way to cure cancer,” she says.

    READ MORE: 8 Breast Cancer Myths You NEED To Stop Believing

    Advice Everyone Should Heed About Breast Cancer

    If someone in your immediate family has breast cancer and tests positive for the BRCA 1 or 2 gene mutation, it is recommended that you get tested as well, Robyn emphasises. According to her, you would rather be equipped with that knowledge and take the necessary preventative measures should you test positive.

    “Had I done the gene test after my first diagnosis, I would probably have had a bilateral mastectomy and prevented my current breast cancer diagnosis,” she reflects.

    She highlights that you should really get to know the ins and outs of your body and trust your gut if you think something is amiss.

    How Fighting Breast Cancer And Ovarian Cancer Has Changed Robyn’s Life:

    “Well, first of all, I have a new set of perky boobs and a flat tummy,” she says. Robyn chose DIEP Flap surgery as reconstruction is done immediately and would eliminate the number of operations she would need to undergo had she selected implants. “My plastic surgeon was also very pro this surgery,” she says.

    Thankfully, she was a good candidate for a DIEP Flap which is a type of reconstruction that uses your own tissue to create a new breast after a mastectomy. They used Robyn’s abdominal tissue to create new breasts, which took around 9 hours as it is such an intricate surgery.

    The New Normal:

    You look at those around you who don’t have cancer and just want to feel ‘normal’ again, as you perceive them to be. But you soon realise this is your new normal and that life can’t go back to how it was before – you were given a warning, take heed of it and develop the skills to reduce stress, practice mindfulness, change your diet, set boundaries and so on. It does take daily practice though.”

    “I have only recently completed treatment, so I am still adjusting to what life looks like outside of daily treatments and doctor’s visits, but one thing it has definitely done is made me slow down and focus on today. Being diagnosed with cancer opens your eyes to what is important in life – prioritising time spent with family and friends, taking the time to listen to the sound of the waves crashing, the wind blowing through the trees, the sunsets and the moon rising – life is about the simple things we so easily take for granted,” she says. More

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    Summer Adventure Awaits: Nurturing Bone Health With MenaCal.7™

    In the tapestry of a woman’s life, strong bones are the threads that uphold vitality and empower adventures. MenaCal.7™ emerges as a beacon, urging women to invest in their bone health from the early years, an act of self-love that paves the way for a life of boundless possibilities. As summer beckons, it’s time to embrace the warmth and embark on adventures, supported by the strength that MenaCal.7™ brings.

    Summer Adventures Await 

    With the arrival of summer, the call for adventure grows stronger. Hiking through scenic trails, exploring new destinations, or revelling in the joys of outdoor yoga – all these experiences are enhanced when supported by strong, flexible bones. MenaCal.7™ stands as your partner, ensuring your bones are up for every exhilarating challenge the season brings.

    Self-Love: Nourishing Your Foundation 

    Caring for your bones is an act of self-love, a promise to your body that it will carry you through a lifetime of experiences. MenaCal.7™ embodies this self-care, infusing your bones with the nutrients they need to face the world with strength and grace. It’s a reminder that taking care of yourself is a beautiful, powerful act.

    READ MORE: Empower Your Journey: Unveiling The Secret To Strong Bones With MenaCal.7™

    Investing in Your Future Self 

    The early years are the foundation of a robust future. MenaCal.7™, with its dynamic blend of calcium, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 (MK-7), helps bones grow strong and resilient. By investing in bone health early on, you gift yourself the promise of an active, adventurous life.

    MenaCal.7™ is more than a supplement; it’s a commitment to your future self. By nurturing bone health early on, you set the stage for a life of vibrant adventures and self-love. As the summer sun warms your spirit, let MenaCal.7™ be the foundation that supports every step of your journey.  More

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    Empower Your Day: Discover Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy

    Are you looking to infuse your days with lasting energy? Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy is here to provide you with a practical solution.

    Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy is crafted to provide steady energy throughout the day. It’s not about quick fixes or unrealistic boosts. Instead, it’s designed to ensure you have the energy you need to handle your daily commitments without feeling drained.

    Enhanced mental focus is within reach with Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy. You can experience improved concentration and mental clarity, allowing you to stay on top of your tasks without feeling scattered.

    READ MORE: Energy fizzling? Ignite your energy with Nutri-B!

    Physical stamina is a crucial factor in maintaining an active lifestyle. Whether it’s completing a workout, managing household chores, or fulfilling professional responsibilities, Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy aims to support your endurance.

    We all experience fatigue, but it’s how we manage it that matters. Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy is formulated to help you better cope with fatigue and maintain your energy levels even when faced with demanding situations.

    READ MORE: This Morning Workout Will Give You A Major Energy Boost

    Empowerment comes from practical solutions that align with your goals. Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy provides the essential support you need to take charge of your day and maximize your potential.

    Elevate your day with Vitaforce Nutri-B Energy. Enhance focus, stamina and conquer fatigue naturally. Embrace practical vitality.

    Fuel your day, empower your journey. More

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    8 Breast Cancer Myths You NEED To Stop Believing

    Ah, October… The time of year when almost every tree is swathed in pink and the term “breast cancer” is in your timeline more often than a Kardashian. And while awareness is incredibly important – regular check-ups and a healthy lifestyle are key to combating cancer – a flurry of information also creates room for confusion.

    In the world of science, it can take years of research and studies on large numbers of people to get a clear picture of what can and can’t increase or decrease your risk. That’s why you need to be extra careful where you get your information from. Here, we bust eight common myths and uncover the truth.

    Myth#1: Younger women are becoming more and more susceptible.

    Truth: The older you get, the more at risk you are for any cancer – not the other way round, says Dr Melissa Wallace, head of research at the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). “The majority of breast cancer patients in South Africa and abroad have typically been and still are women between the ages of 50 and 70 years,” says Dr Justus Apffelstaedt, a specialist surgeon with a particular interest in breast, thyroid and parathyroid health management. So why older women? It’s not entirely clear, but research has shown that it may be a result of the accumulation of age-associated changes in a biochemical process that helps control genes.

    Myth#2: Chemotherapy is the MVP of breast cancer treatments.

    Truth: “The most effective way to treat breast cancer is with a multi-disciplinary approach, combining a number of treatment options that include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal and biological agents,” says Apffelstaedt. The right treatment for you will depend on the type and stage of cancer and how far it has spread. “Treatment can consist of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or biological or targeted therapies, which are new drugs that work differently to chemotherapy. A patient may have one of these treatments or a combination,” says Wallace.

    Myth#3: If you’re a smoker, you’re automatically at risk for breast cancer.

    Truth: Hate to break it to ya, but if you’re smoking, you’re at risk for around says Wallace. But that’s not the end of the story. “Many women will not necessarily increase the risk of getting breast cancer by smoking, but there is a subset of women with a specific genetic make-up that prevents them from detoxifying cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke efficiently,” says Apffelstaedt. Those women do indeed have an increased risk of breast cancer when smoking. Places like 3×4 Clinics and DNAlysis can help you find out if you’re among them– but quitting is still a better option.

    READ MORE: 11 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Women That Aren’t Lumps

    Myth#4: Mammograms are painful.

    Truth: It shouldn’t be painful, but a little discomfort is normal. Plus, knowing the state of your boobies should for sure outweigh any temporary unease.

    Myth#5: Mammograms are not a big deal in breast cancer treatment.

    Truth: Not all mammograms are created equal. When it comes to screening for BC, you want the best tech available, including an image produced by a mammogram specialist radiographer.

    “High-quality breast imaging will detect about 95 percent of all breast cancers. In such centres, women whose breast cancer is detected at screening will have the same survival chances as women without breast cancer,” says Apffelstaedt.

    Myth#6: It doesn’t make a difference where you’re treated.

    Truth: “There can be a variation across facilities and provinces in terms of waiting periods for diagnosis and then waiting periods for accessing treatment,” says Wallace. The longer the waiting period, the worse the prognosis, since early treatment and detection are key. “In certain parts of the country, patients are experiencing unacceptable waiting periods to access treatment. CANSA is working hard to do what we can to address this at a national level,” she says. If you’re among those waiting, contact CANSA on

    READ MORE: My Experience With Breast Cancer, At Age 27

    Myth #7: It’s best to remove the whole breast when you have breast cancer.

    Truth: A tumour in the breast will not kill you. What will? The spread of cancer to the brain and lungs, says Apffelstaedt, Wallace agrees. “Whether or not the breast will be removed is entirely dependent on the type of breast cancer, the stage and how far it’s spread.” Plus, says Apffelstaedt, breast cancer often spreads to other areas early in the course of the disease, so a mastectomy won’t guarantee a better survival rate than breast-conserving therapy.

    Myth #8: You’re more likely to get breast cancer after a breast augmentation.

    Truth: “It may be hard for the doctor to see certain parts of your breast,” says Wallace. “The X-rays used in mammograms cannot go through silicone or saline implants well enough to show the breast tissue under them. This means that part of the breast tissue can be hard to see on a mammogram.” But studies show that women who undergo breast augmentation surgery and have breast implants are no more likely to develop breast cancer than women who don’t, says Apffelstaedt. More