Tips & Advice
Dr. Liz’s Blog

Medical Practice Speaking


True Risk of Breast Cancer

03/   October, 2019

RIGHT NOW, YOU *DO NOT* HAVE A ONE IN EIGHT CHANCE OF BREAST CANCER

Have you heard that the average woman’s risk of breast cancer is 1 in 8? This is the risk as understood by most doctors and that I have often quoted to others.

One in eight sounds pretty scary, and I am passionate about dispelling unnecessary fear.

My mind was recently blown when I learned that this risk of 1 in 8, or about 12%, is NOT your risk right now. 

It is actually your total risk over your entire lifetime if you live to be 85 years old.

Your Actual Risk

Broken down by decade, your actual risk looks like this:

Age Decade Absolute Risk of Breast Cancer Percentage
30’s 1 in 227 0.4%
40’s 1 in 68 1.5%
50’s 1 in 42 2.4%
60’s 1 in 28 3.6%
Over 70 1 in 26 4%

Source: Patricia R. Kelly, PhD, Assess Your True Risk of Breast Cancer

Add up the percentages to get 11.9, or about 12% total lifetime risk.

Even if no one in your family has had breast cancer, now with social media, everyone knows or has heard of someone who has had breast cancer. The stories range from scary to inspirational.

My Mom’s Story

My mom had early-stage breast cancer when she was 68 years young. It was found on a mammogram (it’s a good story – watch the video at the top☺), treated and cured. I know the word “cure” is tricky to use, but another fact is that more than 90% of women diagnosed with early breast cancer are cured and need no further treatment. 

Even so, with my family history, I wait in suspense every year between my mammogram and the letter saying the results are normal (the letter I have gotten every year so far, thank goodness).

This October, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m going to spend the month sharing information with you about the benefits of (the right kind of) hormone replenishment to lower your risk of breast cancer (both initial and recurrent breast cancer).

Make sure your friends are on this e-newsletter list or connected with me on social media for all the pearls I want to share with you, this month and in the future.

Estrogen prevents Breast Cancer?

I’ll leave you for now with one more shocker: the scientific data shows less breast cancer in women who use estrogen.

Stay tuned for more!

Please leave your comments and questions below.


The Village Clinic – Safari Doctors

06/   August, 2019

It was a blessing and privilege for me to help Safari Doctors on Pate Island, Lamu archipelago, Kenya in July 2019

I wish you could have been there.

The clinic looked more like an abandoned house. Cement floors, no electricity, no running water. Nothing in the windows. The waiting area had a bench on one end where few people could sit down, and at the other end was the pharmacy which was basically a table with a scattered array of boxes, and tubes, and jugs of all kinds of different medicines.


Why I Ignored My Mother’s Advice and Did It Anyway

04/   June, 2019

Dr. Liz and Dr.Norah Gutrecht

With my mom at my medical school graduation, 1990

It’s true. My mother was terrified when I told her I was going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

She pictured ice picks, ropes, oxygen masks, and dangerous ravines. I calmed her fears by sending her a picture from my Kili guide book showing (the truth) that most of it consists of beautiful hikes.  All I needed were good hiking boots, warm clothes, and sturdy poles.

My mom has always thought I was a little crazy. I often gave her good reason to think so.

Who celebrates turning 50 by climbing up a mountain?

It made perfect sense to me. I thought it was the perfect way to demonstrate (mostly to myself) that getting older does NOT mean declining or shrinking away from living life out loud.


Balance Your Hormones to Improve Your Sex Drive

11/   February, 2019

Lack of sex drive is a common reason women come into my office.

I appreciate this because sex drive – a.k.a. libido – is not only about sex. Libido reflects motivation, drive, passion in life.

Libido reflects life energy.

I also appreciate when women acknowledge the importance of sexual health and intimacy for the health for their relationships.

[I think most men are much quicker than most women to admit the importance of sex in their lives. What do you think? Comment at the end of this blog.]

Evaluating a woman with a low sex drive starts with questions about her physical health.

  • Is she perimenopausal or menopausal?
  • Does she have vaginal dryness?
  • Does she have pain or discomfort with sex?

If a woman is in menopause or perimenopause (the 10 or more years leading up to menopause), her hormone levels might be rising and falling, affecting her sleep, mood, sex drive, and more.


Gratitude Boosts Your Health

05/   November, 2018

Over the years, I have been fascinated by the physiology of emotion.

Everyone has experienced the negative impact of emotion on your own physiology. For example, you might feel a “knot in your stomach” when you’re worried. Or, you might feel your heart race when you’re nervous or anxious.

Gratitude

Because I’m interested in people getting to good health outcomes as quickly and efficiently as possible, let’s focus on two emotional practices that have been scientifically shown to improve your health: gratitude and appreciation.

  • Gratitude is usually defined as “thankfulness” or “readiness to show appreciation”.
  • Appreciation builds on gratitude. Definitions include “a full understanding” and “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”

5 Health Benefits of Coffee

23/   October, 2018

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, it also seems to be quite healthy. Studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases.

Here are the top 5 health benefits of coffee.

1. Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain, which causes a stimulant effect. This improves energy levels, mood and various aspects of brain function.

2. Several studies show that caffeine can increase fat burning and boost your metabolic rate.


Detecting Breast Cancer: Mammography Vs Thermography

27/   September, 2018

First of all, let me be clear that when I say I still “like” mammograms I am not saying that I “enjoy” mammograms.

MammographyNobody relishes the idea of getting their breast squished between two cold plates of a giant machine.

I don’t feel nervous on my way to a mammogram because of the technique or method of doing the test, but for the same reason that any woman would feel nervous. I’m worried about the test finding a problem. The nervousness that accompanies the drive to the mammography center lasts all the way until the letter arrives with the results.


Self-care is not selfish

03/   August, 2018

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

As we get ready to wind up summer and send our kids back to school, I am here to remind you to take care of yourself as well.

Maybe when I say that, you say to yourself, “Yes, I know, I will take care of myself.”

However, what I observe all too often is that people (women, in particular) are self-conscious or even self-critical about taking time for themselves. Many of us have a little voice (mine seems to be in my ear – maybe yours sits on your shoulder) that expresses disapproval if I say “no” to an invitation, or if I leave work on time to get to an aerobics class at the gym.

Dr. Liz has authored and co-authored several books, with a fourth book to be released soon. Be the first to know!