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Meet the team at Elevated Dental in Vail

Going to the dentist may not be the most pleasurable experience, but the team at Elevated Dental in West Vail aims to provide excellent dental care in a relaxed and friendly environment so that you can keep your smile looking good.

“A lot of people are very fearful and nervous when it comes to the dentist,” said Justin Moses, DMD, and owner of Elevated Dental. “Our team does a wonderful job helping that person relax and leave feeling great.”

Originally from Pennsylvania, Moses is a third generation dentist who completed dental school at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and did an advanced training residency at the University of Colorado. 

“With extensive training in advanced dental procedures such as implants, wisdom teeth and cosmetic dentistry, we try to keep things simple for our patients and treat them at our office without them having to drive to another office for services,” Moses said.

The Elevated Dental name may be new, but the practice isn’t. Shortly after moving to the Vail area in 2015, Moses crossed paths with Dr. Paul Corcoran, who has been a dentist in the area for over 35 years. Corcoran and his wife Jean have provided excellent care to many valley locals through their dental practice.

“I met Dr. Corcoran through my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Andy Larson, and we worked out the best path for the future of the practice,” Moses said. Following in the Corcoran’s footsteps, it will be a husband and wife team at Elevated Dental. Moses will wed Maddy Larson, who takes care of the business side of the office, later this month.

Elevated Dental also wants to take care of your financial worries by focusing on preventative care and early diagnosis. “Thousands of dollars and hours of appointment time can be saved by diagnosing a cavity in the early stages,” Moses said. 

They also offer the Elevated Care Plan, which helps if you don’t have insurance or have poor coverage.

“No need to worry about the extra cost of x-rays, we just package your x-rays, cleanings and check-ups together for just $300 a year and you can add additional family members for $250,” Larson said. “If you are a member of the Vail Valley Partnership, we offer the Elevated Care Plan for $250.”

“I love seeing the transformation that our patients go through when they come to our office. I love helping patients who are a part of our community and visitors who made need our services while on their trip. Nobody wants a vacation ruined because of a toothache,” Moses said. 

To learn more about Elevated Dental’s services and care plans, call 970-476-3991 or visit www.elevateddentalvail.com.

Haims: Consider a bioidentical approach to menopause symptoms

There are many reasons that hormone levels in both men and women may become imbalanced. Unfortunately, such changes are not isolated to “old” people. Changes in hormonal levels are seen in people as early as their 30s and occasionally earlier.

For women, the 40s are often when changes in hormones occur. Such changes may often be the result of ovary production. As women age, the ovaries produce less of the hormones progesterone and estrogen. This decrease in hormone production often leads to unpredictable menstrual periods, irritability, anxiety, changes in mood, tension, and an overall feeling like you may be overwhelmed and have little control.

Other hormonal changes that may occur could be related to the thyroid. As your thyroid ages, it can begin to function less effectively and either produce too little or too much of the thyroid hormones.

Dr. Daniel Einhorn, M.D., an endocrinologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, California, explains, “Thyroid disease, generally, comes in two flavors: over- (hyperthyroidism) and under-active (hypothyroidism). The symptoms of hyperthyroidism — including weight loss, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, irritability, heat intolerance and a constantly “wired” feeling — generally catch women’s attention sooner than those of hypothyroidism. A common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid.”

“An underactive thyroid, called hypothyroidism, however, is a whole different story. The symptoms are usually mild and non-specific, so it’s easy to attribute them to many other things… like menopause, for instance.”

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, an underactive thyroid can lead to fatigue, brain fog, irregular menstrual periods, weight gain, depression, constantly feeling cold, and even hair loss.”

A bioidentical approach

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement (BHR) can be used, specifically for women, to help mitigate the symptoms of general hormonal imbalance in addition to menopause and perimenopause symptoms.

Charla Blacker, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, explains that, “Unlike conventional hormone therapy that uses synthetic hormones or animal-based hormones that are slightly different from a woman’s own hormones, bioidentical hormones are biochemically the same as those made by the ovaries during a woman’s reproductive years.”

Hormone therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are medications containing female hormones to replace the ones that a woman’s body no longer makes. Typically, HRTs consist of a combination of estrogen plus progestin and are made from synthetic hormones or animal-based hormones that are slightly different from a woman’s own hormones. They are commonly available in tablets, transdermally (through the skin), subcutaneously (a long-lasting implant), and vaginally.

Until recently, the combination of estrogen and progestin made up most hormone-replacement therapies and was considered to be an effective treatment for menopause. However, the side effects of HRT have led many people to seek other options.

Known side effects of HRT include breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and heart disease. The risks and benefits of HRT need to be weighed individually and in conjunction with your doctor.

Women’s Health Initiative study

In 2002, The Women’s Health Initiative study (WHI) brought to light concerns about HRT. It was a randomized, controlled clinical trial of hormone replacement therapy and is one of the most definitive, far-reaching clinical trials of post-menopausal women’s health ever undertaken in the U.S.

While the WHI study has shown that hormone replacement therapy has had life-threatening risks, research is still being conducted on some of the potential benefits. The beneficial effects on colorectal cancer risk and large colon adenomas are still of interest to researchers and the medical community.

Bioidenticals are thought to be effective in helping to regulate hormones without the side effects of the therapies using synthetic ingredients. Unlike conventional hormone therapy, bioidentical hormones are thought to be biochemically the same and have the same molecular structure as those made by the ovaries.

Bioidentical hormone therapy has been supported with sufficient trial data that warrants a look. If you are interested, you can research the web and try speaking to your local pharmacist who may be educated in preparing bioidenticals.

Locally, Vail Valley Pharmacy in Edwards provides bioidentical hormones for both women and men. The pharmacy can be reached at 970-569-4150.  You can also contact Dr. Mary Glode at Grand River Health Women’s Care at 970-625-1100.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County.  He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

According to the American Cancer Society, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined. Pair that sobering statistic with the fact that many of us in the Eagle Valley live an active outdoor lifestyle and have higher UV exposure in the Rockies, and skin cancer awareness becomes something we shouldn’t take lightly. But there is some good news.

“If caught early, skin cancer is more curable,” said Karen Nern, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and owner of Vail Dermatology. Being an advocate for your health and doing self-checks and going in each year for a full cancer screening is a good way to protect yourself from the disease. But also changing the way we think about the sun and how it affects our largest organ is key.

As the temperatures rise and the days grow longer, many are heading outdoors and exposing more skin than during the winter months. This makes May a perfect time to remember to wear sunscreen and learn about the dangers of skin cancer during Melanoma Awareness Month.

“I think there is a misconception about tanning. A lot of people think that tanning is good for you, so there are some people who still tan. There’s no such thing as a healthy tan,” Nern said. “We’re also a young, healthy, active population here and I think people don’t realize they can get skin cancer until it happens.”

Skin cancer is non-discriminatory when it comes to age. “We’ve seen skin cancers in patients as young as 17 or 18 years old. I’ve diagnosed a melanoma on a 16-year-old girl’s ear before,” Nern said.

Another misconception is your hair, eye and natural skin color. “If you’re fair skinned and light eyed, you have a much higher risk for skin cancer. But even if people tan easily, they can still get skin cancer. I’ve done lots of ski cancer surgeries on people who have darker skin types,” Nern said.

If you are doing self-checks, follow the ABCDE rule:

  • A – Asymmetry, where one half of the mole doesn’t match the other.
  • B – Border irregularity.
  • C – Color that is not uniform.
  • D – Diameter should be no greater than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • E – Evolving in size, shape or color.

“I think the main thing is for people to just pay attention to something that’s not healing or is growing and changing,” Nern said. “When in doubt, get yourself checked.”

Lindsey Vonn’s got next: Legendary ski racer has big plans

VAIL — Lindsey Vonn’s historic ski-racing career was defined not by how many times she fell, but how many times she got back up. The end result of that tenacity? Three Olympic medals, eight World Championships medals and 82 World Cup victories — the most of any female skier.

Nearly two months into her retirement from World Cup competition, Vonn’s work ethic hasn’t wavered, but her focus has.

“I just think that ski racing is a small part of my life and my career,” Vonn said before her foundation’s fundraiser in Vail on March 29. “I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to do so much despite all of my injuries and what not, but now all the doors are open and I can really hunker down, work hard and hopefully accomplish something much greater than I did in ski racing.”

‘Ready to move on’

Similar to her dedicated preparation before entering starting gates across the world for so many years, Vonn and her close circle of family and friends have been preparing for this moment for years, she said.

With more time and availability away from ski racing, Vonn is certainly staying busy while focusing on a balance of work and play — including doing ski ballet with Jonny Moseley on Vail Mountain.

Vonn has partnered with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Under Armour on the Bend Boundaries Project Rock Collection. When she signed on, the current line was already mostly designed, but she’s looking forward to being more hands-on moving forward.

“The next line I’m working closely with him and the design team to make sure the products are perfect,” Vonn said. “Obviously he’s not a girl, so he can’t wear test it, so that’s kind of my job.”

Currently, the duo have Under Armour’s top 10 selling items.

At the Lindsey Vonn Foundation annual fundraiser — an ’80s prom-themed affair — Johnson recorded a special message to the crowd and offered up a live auction item featuring a visit to set of “Jungle Cruise,” his new Disney film based off the amusement park ride of the same name.

Video courtesy of David V Gonzales

In 2018, the Lindsey Vonn Foundation helped more than 30 girls pursue their dreams through over $83,000 in scholarships for education, sports and enrichment programs. The foundation is led by executive director Laura Kildow, Vonn’s sister. At the foundation’s fundraiser in Vail, scholarship winner and up-and-coming ice skater Caroline Pellerito of Skating Club of Vail took the stage with Vonn.

Her mission with the foundation is to build out its curriculum in the next three years and work toward a long-term plan, helping more girls build confidence and reach their goals.

Vonn is also working on a memoir coming out soon and a beauty line with partner Chase Ink.

“We have a lot of things in the works. Some of it you’ll hear about soon; some of it will come out in a while,” she said, “but I’m definitely staying busy.”

Acting classes are also on the to-do list for Vonn.

“I really want to kick some ass in whatever it is I do — some sort of action movie,” she said.

With projects and connections across the country, Vonn will continue to spend some time in Vail and is having her surgery done here on April 1.

“I think it’s important for me to find a good balance because I tend to be a workaholic, and I could fill up every single day if I wanted to,” she said. “I also want to spend time with P.K. and my family, and the dogs.”

P.K. is P.K. Subban, Vonn’s boyfriend and a star defenseman for the Nashville Predators. When asked if she’ll ever take up singing while in Nashville, Vonn said “definitely not.” Her time now revolves around someone else’s competitive schedule.

“It just depends on P.K.’s schedule because I want to be there for him and hopefully he makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals and wins the cup,” she said.

While Vonn finished her ski racing career four wins shy of the 86 World Cup victories claimed by the great Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, the sport is officially in her rearview.

“It’s weird, it’s already so far in the back of my mind, and that’s how it should be,” she said. “If I was still thinking about it then that wouldn’t be healthy. I’ve accepted what I did in my career and I’m ready to move on.”

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Haims: Living with Parkinson’s and turning challenges into success

Life has a way of presenting us with many challenges. Those that face the challenges and have the fortitude and perseverance are the ones who experience success.

Over the years, I have had to take more than a couple profile tests. Perhaps my first was with a college advisor who explained to me that such a test would help him, and me, better understand my personality traits and therefore be helpful in directing me to a college best suited to me and my goals. I took another when applying to the Air Force and another when purchasing Visiting Angels.

I have found a recurring question often found in these test — “tell me about your heroes.” Steadfastly, I have always responded that I do not have heroes. Rather, I have people I respect and admire. Consistently, all such people are those who have experienced adversity and turned challenges into success.

Life is a challenge

Challenges are a part of life. Without them, life would be meaningless as we’d have little understanding of achievement and failure. Life would be complacent and boring.

Facing and living through life’s challenges and adversities provides us with experience that define our lives. The secret to our successes is rooted in our challenges, failures, and adversities.

As with any ailment, people have the choice of letting the disease take over or fighting back. Fighting back against Parkinson’s is taking many people to places they may have never thought of. Some are attending yoga, Tai Chi, pool exercise programs, and even the boxing ring.

Recently, I assisted a few locals to a Parkinson’s therapy session at a somewhat unlikely place — a martial arts and boxing studio. If the paradox is not clear, let me illuminate. Parkinson’s inhibits movement and boxing is all about movement.

Research is showing that non-contact boxing is therapeutically beneficial for Parkinson’s patients — physically and mentally. Physically, boxing is proving to help balance, agility, and hand-eye coordination. Mentally, boxing provides a stress release and is empowering. The sport teaches people to be mentally strong and overcome adversity. If nothing else, a right hook to a punching bag or strike mitt can curb anger and can be quite cathartic.

One gentleman in the group is just shy of his 90th birthday. I was informed that prior to his joining the boxing program, his family was distraught that they could not motivate him to get out of the chair. As I sat and watched him work out, I was quite impressed every time I heard the loud crack from his hands as he hit the hand pads of the instructor. Should I make it to be close to 90 years of age, I hope I move as deftly as he. He is inspirational and has turned formidable adversity into success.  

Others in the group were in their 70s and 80s. Each had donned their red boxing gloves except for one who danced around the floor mats in bright pink gloves. Yes, women too participate. 

Watching the comradery of this group and their united front to work through the difficulties this movement disorder presents them with is encouraging to me and should be encouraging to anyone who may be fighting a health ailment.

I admire each and every one of these people. They have not given up, nor do they whine and ask “why me?” While I am sure each has had their down moments, they have not thrown in the towel and given up. They have chosen to fight adversity.

My mother has Parkinson’s, as did my grandmother. It sucks. But does Parkinson’s suck more or less than cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), cardiovascular diseases, ALS, vision or hearing loss?  

While many people living in our valley are pretty fit and try to be healthy, it won’t last forever. If we want to remain in the valley we love when life’s challenges present themselves, we must take action NOW to promote and develop resources that can help us stay here.

Within the past three months, I know of four longtime locals who have had to leave the valley they love because we do not have the resources needed to assist them. (I’m sure there’s many more.)

There are organizations that are being proactive. Howard Head Sports Medicine has developed a program called Brain & Balance. The program helps treat stroke patients, Parkinson’s patients and those with impaired balance and proprioception concerns. Additionally, the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies has brought Power Punch to both our community and Colorado.

We are all going to get old and experience challenges with our health. Get involved, donate, better utilize resources we already have, and think out of the box. These are things we can do to help build a community that will assist us in ensuring we can remain in the valley we love.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County.  He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.

Vail One Mind program helps response to mental health cases

VAIL — Police are often the first to respond to people in crisis. Vail’s police department is working to make sure those first responders can provide as much help as possible.

The Vail Police Department is participating in the One Mind program, which was developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger has long been associated with that group.

According to the organization’s website, One Mind focuses on “uniting local communities, public safety organizations and mental health organizations so that the three become ‘of one mind.’”

Henninger said it has only been recently that there have been enough partners able to help with those goals. Vail police are working with the recently-created Eagle County Hope Center.

Henninger said longtime provider Mind Springs Health — which serves much of the Western Slope — simply hasn’t had the resources in Eagle County to provide the level of services needed for the One Mind program to be effective.

A growing need

The One Mind program works to build a model that involves police and medical first responders. And the need for services has been climbing, and climbing rapidly.

During a recent presentation to the Vail Town Council, Eagle County Human Services Department Director Chris Lindley laid out some of those numbers.

The county in just the past four years has seen a 360 percent increase in emergency room visits for anxiety or depression. There has been a similar increase in emergency room visits for alcohol or drug intoxication.

The number of suicides in the county has also roughly tripled, going from six in 2016 — a longtime county average — to 16 in 2017 and 17 in 2018.

Lindley said there has also been an increase since 2011 in the number of middle schoolers who have made suicide plans. That number was 15 percent in 2017, compared to 5 percent in 2011.

Vail Town Council member Jenn Bruno noted during the meeting that her two sons are both in middle school.

“I believe those numbers,” she said.

Lindley then ran through some of the efforts to improve mental health care in the county, starting with a sales tax on marijuana sales passed in 2017.

While that tax by itself won’t generate enough to cover all the county’s needs — Lindley’s estimates show more than $200 million in need over the next decade — Lindley said voter approval of the tax helped jump start the local effort.

Work is coming along to create facilities, including a 24-hour walk-in clinic.

But the needs are great. Lindley said Eagle County would need another 66 mental health professionals just to get the area to the state per-capita average.

One Mind, one community

Vail’s One Mind is another attempt to help as much as possible.

Henninger said One Mind is an effort to “have good policies in place.”

The program aims to train everyone working for Vail’s police department, from clerks to dispatchers to street officers.

The training is extensive — the 40-hour course includes both classroom work and role-playing exercises. The role-playing portion of the course includes actors trained to represent people in crisis.

Henninger said most of the department has taken the training. The entire staff may be trained by the end of this year, barring staff turnover.

The program is paid for with the department’s regular training funds.

Henninger said the One Mind training is useful for cases beyond those in a mental health crisis.

The “de-escalation” techniques can help with risk protection orders and other cases, he added.

Henninger said the reasons aren’t well known for the increases in mental health cases. But the need is there, for money and resources.

“Why don’t we have something similar to Pink Vail for mental health?” Lindley asked. “Wouldn’t it be nice to do that for mental health as well?”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

Haims: Antibiotics and alternative choices for urinary tract infections (column)

Respiratory and sinus infections, along with strep throat, are some of the most common reasons for antibiotic use worldwide. Antibiotics are commonly used for the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

UTIs are caused by microorganisms — usually bacteria — that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. Generally, a UTI is defined as an infection of the urinary system that may involve the lower urinary tract or both the lower and upper urinary tracts.

Lower UTI

Lower urinary tract infections occur when the urethra and/or bladder is infected. The propensity of UTIs occur in the lower tract. Symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection often include one or more of the following: cloudy, bloody or bad-smelling urine, urinary incontinence, pain or a burning sensation when passing urine. In the elderly, delirium and/or acute confusion often occurs.

Upper UTI

Upper urinary tract infections generally occur when the ureters (duct by which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder) and kidneys become infected. While this type of UTI typically occurs less frequently, the effects are usually more severe as bacteria has greater potential to enter the bloodstream.

Symptoms of an upper UTI can include fever, nausea/vomiting and pain in the upper back and flanks. It is not uncommon for such an infection to necessitate admission to a hospital or medical facility.

In the United States, UTIs are quite common. They account for 6 million to 8 million visits to medical providers a year — 20 percent of which involve emergency room visits. Approximately 25-40 percent of women aged 20-40 years have had a UTI and 11 percent of women over the age of 18 experience at least one episode annually. Unfortunately, the probability of recurrence after the first UTI in healthy women 18 to 29 years of age is one in four.

Treatment and prevention

While antibiotics are the go-to medicine of choice for UTIs, they do have a downside — repeated use often leads to antibiotic resistance. This is why many medical providers will start treatment with narrow-spectrum antibiotics which are less likely to lead to antibiotic resistance and side effects.

When antibiotics are used frequently, resistance to these drugs can occur causing them to be ineffective. Some of the most frequently used antibiotics that treat UTIs are Cipro, Bactrim, Nitrofurantoin and Fosfomycin. Resistance to such antibiotics is occurring with greater frequency. Further, some of these medications may not be optimal for people who have concerns about chronic kidney disease or take blood pressure medication.

Natural treatments exist though. According to doctors at the Cleveland Clinic (ranked as one of the leading urology departments in the United States) in addition to information provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), there are a number of alternatives to antibiotics.

Alternatives include probiotics, D-mannose, Methenamine Hippurate, estrogens, intravesical glycosaminoglycans and cranberries. It is not just a wives’ tail, the medical benefits of cranberries cannot be ruled out.

Although you may need to get Methenamine Hippurate, estrogens and intravesical glycosaminoglycans from your medical provider, probiotics and cranberry choices are readily available. However, you need to educate yourself about the efficacy and use of probiotics and cranberry choices.

Should you have interest in trying probiotics, you need to choose one that is resistant to gastric and bile acids in order to reach the intestinal system. Probiotics species containing Lactobacillus are believed to prevent the adherence, growth and colonization of uropathogenic bacteria.

If cranberries are more to your flavor, then you should know that they have been proven to be effective at helping prevent bacteria from clinging to the walls of the bladder which helps flush bad bacteria out of the urinary tract. A sugar found in cranberries, peaches, apples, broccoli and green beans called D-mannose has shown promise to aid in the treatment of UTIs.

Prevention

  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day. Drinking water helps dilute your urine and ensures that you’ll urinate more frequently.
  • Apply an estrogen-containing vaginal cream in post-menopausal women to reduce the risk of a urinary tract infection.
  • Follow good hygiene practices of the genital area.
  • Urinate frequently. This flushes bacteria out of the bladder and may reduce the risk of cystitis in those who are prone to urinary tract infections.
  • Change adult diapers frequently and as soon as possible after leakage occurs. This assists in mitigating the reintroduction of bacteria.

While antibiotics must be used with caution in the treatment of UTIs, so should natural alternatives. You should always consult your medical provider when it comes to UTI concerns — a simple infection can become a serious concern.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.

Want to know your breast cancer risk? Talk to your doctor

(sponsored content)

Regular checkups with your healthcare provider can help determine when cancer screening is right for you

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente

A woman’s chance of surviving breast cancer increases dramatically the earlier the cancer is detected, but because breast cancer can be invisible, women must be proactive about their health screenings.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with most cases found in women who are at least 50 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 11 percent of breast cancers are found in women under the age of 45.

Dr. Jeannine Benson, Internal Medicine Physician at Kaiser Permanente’s Edwards Medical Offices, said it’s important for women to know that they can still get breast cancer without any risk factors, but there are ways women can work to reduce their risks. These include staying active and eating a healthy diet, talking with your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormonal medications, maintaining healthy alcohol use and maintaining a healthy weight.
“Women should have a discussion with their doctor about their personal risk,” she said. “It is important they know their family history for this discussion.”

Risk factors
An online tool, bcrisktool.cancer.gov, helps assess a woman’s risk of breast cancer over the next five years and up to the age of 90 (lifetime risk). It looks at a woman’s age, age at first period, age at the time of the birth of a first child (or whether a woman has never given birth), family history of breast cancer, number of past breast biopsies, and race/ethnicity.

One of the best ways to know your risk for breast cancer is by seeing your doctor regularly and discussing your lifestyle, family history and other factors. While there are no sure ways to prevent breast cancer, the American Cancer Society reports that some risk factors can be changed or lowered.

“Maintaining a well-balanced diet and regular exercise routine are the two best ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer. You can also moderate alcohol consumption to lower your risk. You hear this advice time and again because it really does work,” said Dr. Benson. “But because a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with age, there are two risk factors women can’t control: being female and aging.”

BReast CAncer (BRCA) Susceptibility Gene
Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are at a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Talk to your doctor about genetic testing if you have a family history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer.

“A majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer had no identifiable risk factors–this means as much data as the healthcare industry has, there is still so much to learn about this disease,” said Dr. Benson. “There is not one guaranteed way to predict breast cancer. But conversations with your physician about family history, self-breast exams, and detection through regular screening can help catch breast cancer in its earliest stages.”

“Roughly 70 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors, meaning that the disease occurs largely by chance and according to as-yet-unexplained factors,” said Dr. Shannon Garton, Family Medicine Physician at Kaiser Permanente’s Edwards Medical Offices. “Because breast cancer can be invisible and we are not able to truly predict who may get breast cancer, the best measure we have is to do screening regularly to try to catch any cancer which may develop in its earliest stages.”

Early detection
Mammograms are the most common screening tool for breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast, obtained while the patient stands in front of a special machine that flattens each breast between two plates to obtain the X-ray image.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

The American Cancer Society recommends all women ages 45 to 54 get mammograms every year, and women ages 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years or can continue yearly screening. For woman ages 40 to 44, they can choose to start mammograms during this time if they wish to or if their doctor recommends it.

Benson said other guidelines from The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommend that women who are 50-74 who are at average risk get a mammogram every two years, while women between the ages of 40-49 should talk with their doctor about when they should start getting mammograms.

“There are risks and benefits to screening. The benefit is finding cancer earlier, but risks include false positive results which can lead to unnecessary testing; overdiagnosis and overtreatment; and false negative results in which mammograms can miss some cancers as well, which could delay treatment,” Benson said. “Women who have specific risk factors should talk to their doctor about personal screening recommendations.”

Benson also suggests that patients remain familiar with their breasts so women can notice when a chance occurs. She recommends self -breast exams once a month.

“If you notice any changes, you should be evaluated by your doctor,” she said. “It should also be known that self- breast exams and having a breast exam by your doctor has not been found to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.”

3 tips for early detection of breast cancer

By Katie Coakley, brought to you by Kaiser Permanente.

You might have seen those pink ribbons popping up around town. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, designed to not only help those affected with the disease through early detection, education and support services, but also to increase awareness of the disease.

The facts are startling. About one in eight women in the United States (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. While the risk for men is less, about one in 1,000 men will develop breast cancer, it’s still a risk. And while death rates have been decreasing since 1999, approximately 40,450 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2016 from breast cancer.

However, there is hope. Not only has the overall death rate decreased, but fewer women under 50 have died due to breast cancer. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening and increased awareness.

To help continue the increased awareness and education, Dr. Shannon Garton, family medicine physician at the Kaiser Permanente Edwards Medical Offices, discussed these facts about breast cancer and how to practice early detection.

1. Get screened

There was a time when women were told to conduct self-examination on a monthly basis. That advice has changed. Now, it is recommended to practice “Breast Self Awareness.” If a woman notes any of the following changes, according to the Komen website, they are to notify their doctor.

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
  • If skin changes are noticed in the area of the breast, a physician should evaluate that person.

While being aware of changes in your body is important, it’s not the most powerful tool in early detection.

“Breast self exam is not as effective as a mammogram in detecting breast cancer,” Garton said. “It is very important for women to have mammograms done at the recommended intervals.”

Garton said that women will typically begin to have mammography starting at 40, every one to two years. A clinical breast self exam should be done once every three years.

2. The truth about mammograms

While a mammogram is not something that you’d want to do weekly, there’s no reason to be nervous.

Garton explained that a mammogram is not a risky procedure, but there can be false positive test result, which may lead to further intervention, such as a biopsy. And while there are other tools, such as a breast MRI, it’s not typically used as a screening tool except in rare cases. If there is a genetic risk of cancer at a young age, or if a patient is being evaluated for possible recurrence of cancer, these might be situations where a breast MRI is ordered.

3. Lifestyle matters

While there’s no sure way to avoid breast cancer, there are elements that can make a difference.

“It is important that women be aware that healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of breast cancer,” Garton said. “Maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol use reduces the risk. Breast feeding also reduces risk and limiting time of hormonal therapy after menopause reduces risk.”

It’s important to remember that breast cancer is an area of ongoing study, and further knowledge as to risk, screening and treatment will continue to evolve. However, educating yourself is the first step.

 

Maintaining a woman’s active lifestyle

By Jessica Smith, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t something that just occurs naturally. You have to work at it, plan it and then incorporate it into your daily life. Women deal with a particular set of health risks and issues, many of which can be anticipated and even prevented with a little bit of planning and foresight.

 

Check in and check up

While there is no official age cut-off for yearly checkups, most healthy women don’t need to worry about that kind of consistency until they’re around 65, says Jeannine Benson, a primary care physician at Kaiser Permanente in Edwards. The exception would be if a chronic condition needed to be monitored, such as diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Pap smears only need to occur every few years for women ages 21-29. These checkups also include updating immunizations and monitoring cholesterol levels. From age 30 onward, women should have pap smears every 3-5 years unless something abnormal is detected, plus the routine checkup list including cholesterol, immunizations, diabetes risk, weight and stress management.

Age 50 is the general age for colon cancer screenings, but those individuals who have a family history or other risk factors for colon cancer may need to get screened sooner. Breast cancer screening is generally recommended every 1-2 years starting at age 50. Women in their 40s should talk with their primary care physician about the risks and benefits of mammography starting at age 40 and discuss any other risk factors they may have which could influence how often they get screened.

Common issues

Heart disease is the leading killer of women, says Benson. Therefore, it’s important to plan preventive measures to keep cardiac health at its peak. This includes managing aspects such as exercise, weight control and possibly light medication. Since everyone is different, Benson recommends discussing medication options for cardiac health with a primary care physician.

“When it comes to the need for medication, that’s really patient-specific,” she says. “In general, keeping a healthy weight and exercising 30 minutes a day is really good for the heart.”

Also good for the heart is avoidance of processed foods and refined sugars. Benson suggests a diet of lean meats, vegetables and fruits. Cooking at home tends to be healthier than eating out, and that will impact overall health in addition to cardiac health.

The high altitude of the Rocky Mountains is also important to factor in when it comes to heart health.

“Folks that have a history of cardiac (issues) always need to be careful and in communication with their physicians about how hard they should push things when they are at high altitude, especially someone who doesn’t live up here,” Benson says.

She also recommends women at this altitude keep an eye on their hydration levels and practice good skin care, wearing sunscreen and watching out for any strange spots, and getting those checked out.

The big ‘M’ — menopause

Menopause is the main health issue that differentiates women from men as they grow older. While it can’t be prevented, women can be prepared for the symptoms and take steps to lessen them, even before menopause occurs.

While medical treatment for menopause symptoms is available, many women may not know that a lot of non-medical treatment is lifestyle-based.

“As women get older, having a good exercise regimen actually decreases a lot of the menopause symptoms,” says Benson.

Benson’s other tips include decreasing caffeine, avoiding spicy food and avoiding alcohol. Stress management and exercise can relieve many of the effects as well. Basically, it’s all about “living that healthy lifestyle,” Bensons says.

However, if symptoms persist or become more difficult, medical and hormonal treatments are available, for which Benson recommends women speak with their doctors to find the right course of action.

Active lifestyles

Those who live in the mountains tend to be rather active, even as they grow older. It’s all part of the mountain lifestyle, which Benson praises for creating healthy exercise habits. However, people need to be careful not to overdo it.

She commonly sees biking and skiing injuries, but all too often, people don’t follow the recommended healing practices with such injuries, and as a result, “they end up having chronic problems,” Benson says. “As they get older, that’s going to cause problems. It’s going to be harder and harder to be that active.”

Overall, Benson recommends a healthy diet and consistent exercise practices, without going overboard, for maintaining overall health.

“It really does come back to that lifestyle,” she says.