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Putting self first is vital to good health as mom, wife

By Nancy Churnin Published: December 10, 2009

/> Amid outrage and confusion at the panel’s recommendations, physicians on the panel admitted their communications on breast cancer screenings were "poorly worded” and stated that the task force supports women who decide to begin yearly mammograms at age 40.

However, the panel added that annual mammograms starting at age 40 often have more drawbacks than benefits. False-positive results, they said, can lead to unnecessary biopsies and anxiety.

The American Cancer Society disagrees with the panel’s recommendation, Otis Brawley, the cancer society’s chief medical officer, has publicly stated.

To help alleviate fears among women that the new recommendations could lead to insurance companies "rationing” preventative coverage, an amendment was added last week to the Senate’s health-reform legislation that requires insurers to cover women’s preventative services such as mammograms.

Some doctors recommend that women perform monthly self-exams of their breasts.

Susan Brown, director of education for Komen, said, "You should know what’s normal for you, and if your breasts deviate from how they ordinarily look and feel, talk to your doctor.”

Food for soul
Don’t let these new tips add to your overload as you struggle to balance work and family. One of our most important tips is to relax and find time for yourself.

Slow down: Ask for help when work and family are stressing you out.

Rest up: Sleep at least seven to eight hours nightly. (Exercise and a good diet will help.)

Find a hobby: Dr. Elizabeth Weidmer-Mikhail, director of the women’s psychiatry program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, recommends reading, gardening or taking care of an animal. Can’t resist multitasking even when you’re supposed to be relaxing? Gardening and taking care of an animal can also help with exercise, plus growing herbs and fresh vegetables can improve your diet.

"Women need to do things that are soul-feeding that aren’t aimed at gratifying others,” Weidmer-Mikhail said. "Women need to take care of things, to do things that promote emotional growth. Find a satisfying hobby that doesn’t involve making money or drawing attention to yourself. It will increase your sense of self-worth, which leads to better health all around.”

Looking, feeling good
Ditch those spaghetti straps: Skinny bra straps cause strain and knotting of the trapezius muscle, which can cause headaches or arm pain.

Check skin creams for Retin A: Retin A (available by prescription) is the only scientifically proven anti-aging cream; if your cream doesn’t have it, it’s worthless, Dr. Rod Rohrich said.

Bleach your bath: Add one-fourth cup of bleach to your bathwater and soak for 15 minutes as a cheap, safe and effective way to avoid staph infections, said Dr. Kent Aftergut. (Ask your dermatologist first.)

Sources: American Heart Association; Susan Brown at Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Dr. Kent Aftergut, Dr. Karen Kowalske, Dr. Maureen Finnegan, Dr. Rod Rohrich and Rosemary Son at UT Southwestern Medical Center; Dr. Daryl Greebon, Dr. Carolyn Harris, Dr. Mildred McAfee, Dr. Valerie Kasmiersky, Liz Copes and Megan Moore at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano; Dr. Todd Ruk at Medical City Dallas Hospital; Dr. Liesl Smith, Dr. Tulika Jain, Dr. Kandice Kilbride and Dr. Elizabeth Weidmer-Mikhail, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas; Dr. Riva Rahl of the Cooper Clinic, and the Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department.

Contributing: Heather Warlick-Moore, you! editor

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services