Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

Some Anti-Depressants Interfere with Breast Cancer Treatment

Tamoxifen is frequently prescribed as treatment for estrogen-based cancers, but the Harvard Mental Health Letter reports that some antidepressants may interfere with the drug’s anti-cancer properties.

Three antidepressants—paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and bupropion (Wellbutrin)—should be avoided while taking tamoxifen. These antidepressants are also used to treat hot flashes and aid with smoking cessation.

If you are taking both tamoxifen and one of these three drugs, please consult with your physician.  The article notes that other antidepressants are less likely to interfere with tamoxifen. Better options for women taking tamoxifen include venlafaxine (Effexor), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and mirtazapine (Remeron).


Weight Lifting and Lymphedema

Photo credit: Candace di Carlo (Penn Current)

. . . . . . Kathryn H. Schmitz, Ph.D., MPH . . . . . . Photo credit: Candace di Carlo (Penn Current)

This is an extremely important topic, especially in light of some recent news coverage.  I (Amber) was going to do a little write-up on the matter, but just can’t put it better than Joe Zuther.  Here are his words as published in Lymphedema Today:

As some of you may know, an article published August 13, 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine addressed the topic of weight lifting in women with breast cancer-related lymphedema. The article summarized an 18-month study performed by Dr. Kathryn Schmitz and colleagues in a controlled trial of twice weekly progressive weight lifting involving 141 breast cancer survivors with stable upper extremity lymphedema.

Shortly after this article was published, we received a large number of phone calls and email messages from patients and graduates of our lymphedema management certification courses asking us for clarification on some misleading and inaccurate statements that were made on the results of this study.

One of the more prominent questions we received from patients was: “If it is okay and safe for me to lift weights as this study suggests, is it okay then to lift heavy items at home or at work as well?”

The obvious answer to this question is “NO!”

This is not what this study suggested either, it is clearly a misunderstanding. As a result of these misconceptions, the National Lymphedema Network’s Medical Advisory Board asked Dr. Schmitz to address the many misleading statements that were made in the media about the results of her study. I am very glad to report that Dr. Schmitz answered the NLN’s call and her response was published in the April/June 2010 issue of the LymphLink. This response was necessary to clarify the results of this important study, and what they mean to patients living with lymphedema, or those individuals at risk of developing this condition. Read the rest of this entry »


Bras May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

Biomed Middle EastWhile it may seem a bit far-fetched to speak of ladies’ undergarments being out to kill us, it makes perfect sense that brassieres could at the very least increase our risk of breast cancer. A few days ago, I ran across an interesting article on this very subject whilst updating myself on world news.

Most of the women with whom I work wear bras that are WAY too tight.  This constricts lymphatic flow, making it extremely difficult for the body to cleanse the area of toxins (including carcinogenic chemicals).  These toxins build up and form lumps, cysts – even cancerous cells and tumors.  From a lymphologist’s standpoint, anything that binds too tightly (especially in bands – like bra straps, bra bands, underwear elastics, tight belts, etc.) can be a serious obstruction to proper lymphatic flow.

The research cited goes on to say that locally increased temperature may alter hormone production, thereby increasing the risk of breast cancer.  Melatonin production also seems to decrease the more a woman wears a bra.  Melatonin has powerful antioxidant qualities and has been shown to decrease the rate of breast cancer growth.

Please take a few minutes to read the linked article.  More research needs to be done, but the numbers are nothing short of shocking.  Of the 4700+ women involved in the study:

  • Women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer.
  • Women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day but not to bed had a 1 out of 7 risk.
  • Women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 152 risk.
  • Women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer – The same as men who don’t wear bras!
  • The overall difference between 24 hour wearing and not at all was a 125-fold difference.
  • 80% of bra-wearers who experienced lumps, cysts and tenderness saw the symptoms vanish within a month of going braless.

Please take this into consideration.  If you are going to wear a bra (and most of us women will, nonetheless), it is important to take some precautions.  A well-fitting healthy bra should be slightly loose. . . .  You should easily be able to slip two fingers under the shoulder straps and under the band at the rib cage.  Also, be sure to massage your breasts after removing your bra.  This will help stimulate the lymphatics to do their job and take care of you!

Read the BiomedME’s article at


MLD Lowers Risk of Lymphedema

MedPage Today recently published an article reporting on the findings of a group of researchers in Spain. Their finding were published in the British Medical Journal this year. They found that breast cancer patients who received manual lymph drainage (MLD) after surgery had up to a 72% decreased risk of developing lymphedema!

Read the rest of this entry »


Dealing With Lymphedema

Written by Charlotte Dovey

When Linda Parton defeated breast cancer – twice – she thought it was the end of her problems. In fact, it was just the beginning.

For, as a result of poor post-operative care, she developed lymphoedema, an incurable and hugely debilitating condition which causes painful swelling.

Linda Parton

Still in Pain: Linda Parton

Lymphoedema is caused by an impaired lymphatic system and affects 100,000 people in the UK, 25,000 of them after breast cancer surgery. The others are largely due to injury to, or infection of, the lymph vessels.

The lymphatic system clears unwanted protein and water from the tissues via the lymph vessels throughout the body. Lymphoedema occurs when the system is faulty in some way: fluid doesn’t drain from the tissue, but builds up, causing swelling or oedema.

While not all breast cancer patients develop the condition, their chances of developing it are greater because the lymph nodes are often removed during treatment, potentially damaging the lymphatic system.

The problem can be triggered by something as simple as having your blood pressure taken, which is what happened in Linda’s case. Other traumas that can set off the condition include lifting something heavy, a skin infection, a cut or insect bite.

In the early stages, the swelling – which usually affects either the arms or legs (the areas next to the armpit and groin, where glands are found) – may be slight, but over time, and if left untreated, the area may harden.

Read the rest of this entry »