By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
September 28, 2012
- With some cancers, early symptoms are vague
- The best protection you can’t buy or eat or wear
- How man’s best friend can now be woman’s
I generally prefer to talk to you about how to prevent cancer. But today, I want to bring some lesser-known cancer symptoms to your attention.
Because knowing them could make a huge difference for you or someone in your life.
This month (September) is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Unlike breast, prostate, colon or other forms of cancer, there are no tests that screen for ovarian cancer.
And because the symptoms can be so vague, and easily confused with the symptoms of menopause, many women miss them. Until it’s too late.
Frankly, ovarian cancer is pretty scary. It is the fifth most common cancer among women. It causes more deaths than any other type of female cancer. And its cause is unknown.
Most women don’t get diagnosed with ovarian cancer until it is in the later stages. More than half of women who get ovarian cancer will die from it.
So, what can you do?
Today’s column is for both women, and the men who love them. It will help you know what to look for, or when you should encourage your partner to get medical attention, even if they feel like they’re being a hypochondriac…
Knowing the signs of ovarian cancer – and getting an early diagnosis – remains the best way to survive the disease. But here’s the thing…
Women who are nearing or going through menopause especially are likely to ignore their symptoms, figuring they are “normal.”
That’s because these are the symptoms:
- Feeling bloated or swollen in the belly area
- Feeling full quickly or having difficulty eating
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Digestive issues such as constipation or indigestion
- Unexplained back pain that worsens over time
- Weight loss or gain
- Frequent urination
- Bleeding between periods
And this lack of unusual symptoms is the biggest challenge in catching ovarian cancer early enough to successfully treat it. You see, at any given time, most women will be able to tick off a few items on this list! Especially as they approach and go through menopause.
Even their doctors or their friends are likely to dismiss them with such vague complaints.
So the odds of getting a woman to make a doctor’s appointment based on this list of symptoms is slim to none. And I am convinced this is a big reason ovarian cancer is usually not detected until it is in the virtually unbeatable Stage 3 phase.
The problem is we are so trained to expect aches and pains and changes and weight gain with age, that we completely ignore health problems until they are “bad enough” to get checked out.
But in the same way that detecting breast cancer early depends on being able to detect changes in your breasts, detecting ovarian cancer depends on detecting changes.
And those changes should be checked – at any age and stage of life.
I will also add that if you are eating right and exercising your body regularly, you will be more likely to notice subtle changes in your body. Think about it…
If you eat right and take probiotics, you are less likely to have stomach problems. Which means you would notice digestive issues as soon as they start. If you exercise regularly, your weight probably remains steady, and your muscle tone is good. Which means that sudden weight gains or losses wouldn’t go unnoticed, and chronic persistent back pain would be unusual.
In other words, when you don’t take care of the basics, your body complains. And you become accustomed to the complaints and learn to live with them.
But when you make an effort to have healthy habits, you generally feel great. And you’ll notice right away when you don’t.
One of the only ways we know of to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer is by taking birth control pills. Also, women who have had children tend to have lower risk. This means that decreasing the number of times a woman ovulates, and keeping hormone levels even and in check, are contributing factors.
While there aren’t any natural ways to stop ovulation (except pregnancy), you can keep an eye on your hormone levels.
Be sure your levels of progesterone, estrogen and testosterone are within normal ranges. And work with a doctor throughout menopause, when hormone levels are fluctuating.
Although every single one of our female ancestors before the mid-twentieth century somehow made it through menopause without the use of hormone replacement therapy, today’s perimenopausal/menopausal woman has choices not available to our grandmothers.
They can choose to use nothing and let nature take its course.
They can use botanical therapy – as so many women have safely and effectively for thousands of years – to ease the effects of nature taking its course. Or they can use bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (in the hands of a skilled practitioner please) and avoid many of those hormone induced extremes that can take years to let up, while improving their health
Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep, so your hormones have time to reset when your body is at rest. While these approaches are neither cures nor prevention, having balanced hormones is an important factor in attaining optimal health. And it also ensures that your ovaries won’t be working overtime or under stress.
Now, because I always try to stay on top of new breakthroughs and tell you about them, especially if they are natural and non-invasive, I’m going to share a potential screening method for ovarian cancer with you.
But you have to promise not to laugh!
Because ovarian cancer is one of the hardest to survive, health professionals would love to find a way to screen for it. And if the following headline doesn’t prove that there is no stone being left unturned, I don’t know what does. I found this headline in an Arkansas paper.
“Dogs Training To Sniff Our Ovarian Cancer”
That’s right. The paper reports that the University of Arkansas for Medical Studies is apparently training dogs to distinguish between the scent of benign urine and malignant urine. They have four dogs trained so far, and they say it’s working.
Of course, there is a long way to go before this approach becomes standard protocol. The pilot program won’t be complete for another six months, and after that, they’ll move on to blind trials.
But if this works, it’s possible dogs will not only be man’s best friend… but women’s as well.
I’ll keep you posted!
Dean, Jessica, Dogs Training to Sniff Out Ovarian Cancer, Arkansas Matters, http://arkansasmatters.com/fulltext?nxd_id=538872