Donating to support mental health at the Vic this Christmas

Erin Girouard

all that we have received. Most of all, the holidays are a time to embrace the spirit of giving and share our good fortune with others who may be in need. We have all heard the old adage ‘it’s better to give than to receive’, but research suggests we do indeed benefit from giving to others. Researchers at the Uni- versity of Oregon studied the functional MRIs of sub- jects who gave to various charities and found that giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, the reward center in the brain that releases endorphins and makes us feel good about giving. In fact, a growing body of research suggests giving is not only good for your heart – it is also good for your health. Whether we volunteer, of- fer emotional support or donate to charities, giving has been shown to boost our physical and mental health. The health benefits associated with giving include lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels and living longer. For many of us, finding the perfect gift for a loved one at this time of year can bring a great deal of joy, both for them and for ourselves. But in the spirit of the season, it is important to remember that we also have the oppor- tunity to give back to others in our province that may be in need of hope and support.


or many of us, the holiday season is a time to spend with loved ones. It is a time when we reflect on the year that has gone by and give thanks for

This holiday season, we can make a difference in an

area affecting more families in Manitoba than any oth- er health concern today. Mental health is now the #1 healthcare issue in our province. In fact, a study by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found that 28 per- cent of adults in our province are living with at least one mental illness and it is estimated that many more suffer without being diagnosed, without seeking help, and without being aware of their condition. Mental ill- ness can strike any of us, at any time, and when it does it overwhelms the lives of individuals, families, friends and co-workers – just like it did when it happened to Emily. As a teen, Emily experienced major depression after a series of concussions from sport. Bouts of immense sadness, headaches and pain led to trouble concentrating and self-harm. She persisted, yet continued to struggle in law school, enduring more anxiety and stress, and every day became a bad day for Emily. “My family, friends and my teachers tried to help me, but I was trapped in this awful cycle. I just didn’t want to live any longer.” Emily came to The Vic Hospital with her mother,

where after a comprehensive assessment, she received a new diagnosis and a change in her medication. She started in-patient group therapy and, once discharged, followed up with further treatment. Emily was deter- mined not to let these obstacles prevent her from leading a meaningful and fulfilled life. With support from her family, friends and the caring staff at The Vic; she found the strength and courage to manage her symptoms and help others in their mental health recovery journey. “The Vic gave me hope,” said Emily. “My time there

Lowering your risk of cancer - Part 3 W

Lowering Your Risk of Cancer - Part 3 of 3

hat we eat, weigh, and expose our body to all influence our health, as can sleep, exercise,

and stress. In previous ar- ticles, I presented some of the most important things you can do to not only de- crease the risk of developing cancer, but also help fight the disease and prevent re- currences. Part 1 of this series cov-

ered the five actionable steps you can take that have been shown to improve health and reduce the risk of can- cer: (1) stop smoking, (2) breathe clean air, (3) avoid junk food, (4) maintain a healthy weight, and (5) eat more vegetables and fruits. Last month I outlined the importance of three more: (6) reduce inflammation, (7) use healthier cooking methods, and (8) know what to cook and why. The next three key steps are getting more exercise, better sleep, and taking appropriate nutri- tional supplements. 9. Exercise

It reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, cognitive impairment, and depression. Regular exer- cise will reduce the risk of death more than any other single treatment, with none of the adverse effects of drugs. Erich Richter, professor of human physi- ology at the University of Copenhagen calls exercise a “wonder drug,” and says “there's probably not a sin- gle organ in the body that's unaffected by it."

In the 1990s, Grahame

Nathan Zassman Natural Health

Hardie at the University of Dundee found exercise has the potential to reverse obe- sity and diabetes and help prevent cancer. Earlier stud- ies have shown that physi- cal activity was associated with a decreased risk of co- lon, breast, and endometrial cancer. More recent studies

The sedentary work environments most of us have do not promote optimum health. Try to establish and maintain a routine that incorporates more movement throughout the day. Walk more, and sit less. Exercise for at least twenty minutes every day and avoid sitting for extended periods when possible. If your job requires sitting for long periods of time, be sure to stand up and move around every 20-30 minutes. Exercise helps protect us not only from cancer, but from just about every disease.

published in JAMA Internal Medicine have shown that physical activity lowers the risk of esophageal, liver, stomach, and kidney cancers. Regular exercise has also been shown to decrease the risk of myeloma (a blood cancer), as well as head, neck, rec- tal, bladder, and lung cancer in current and former smokers. Researchers aren't yet sure of all the mechanisms that tie exercise to reduced cancer risk, but simply losing weight has been shown to lower the risk of post- menopausal breast cancer. Hormones are stored in fat cells, and it’s been theorized that hormone imbalances triggered by be- ing overweight are a factor in the devel- opment of many cancers. Circulating hor- mones, growth factors, and inflammatory substances are all reduced when there are fewer fat cells present.

was a turning point that literally saved my life.” Sixteen years after her journey started, Emily consid- ers her life “really good”. Emily graduated from law school, at which time she received an award in recogni- tion of her determination and perseverance. Today she pays it forward as a volunteer with the WRHA Mental Health Advisory Committee. Emily’s work touches the lives of countless individuals in our community who live with mental illness every day. There are hundreds of thousands of Manitobans like Emily and their families who are in need of mental health and counselling services. Together, we can help them get the care they need, when they need it most. The Vic is now home to a significant number of top mental healthcare professionals. This critical mass of strategic skills, knowledge and expertise will create syn- ergies and innovations that will change the way we think about the care of patients and support for families strug- gling with mental health.

In this season of giving, please consider giving the gift of hope to help transform the lives of those living with mental illness like Emily and her family. Your generous support will make a real impact on the health of our loved ones and neighbours, and will spread the joy of the season a little further this year - for yourself, and for those in need of hope this time of year. To support mental health in our community, please call

The Vic Foundation at 204-477-3513 or visit TheVic-

Erin Girouard, Communications and Public Relations Manager at the Vic Foundation.

Men with an accumulation of fat in the abdominal area have a significantly in- creased risk of prostate cancer. Additional- ly, a Michigan State University study found that a protein called FGF-2 released from body fat can cause cells to turn cancerous. Irisin, a protein released from muscles dur- ing exercise, facilitates the self-destruction of breast cancer cells while increasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. Exercise can help prevent the recurrence of cancer, and for those who already have it, exercise has been proven to extend life, especially for patients with breast or colon cancer. Cancer patients who exercised dur- ing treatment showed improved mental and emotional health, less anxiety, a more positive outlook, and a better quality of life. Patients that were over 80 years old and exercised also reported less memory loss.

While aerobic activity (including brisk walking) is the most common form of exer- cise for cancer patients, studies have shown a greater benefit when aerobic exercise is combined with resistance exercises like lift- ing weights or using resistance bands. The greatest benefits were seen in those who walked three to five hours weekly, but even one hour per week resulted in improve- ments when compared to those who were inactive.

10. Get more sleep Getting seven to nine hours of quality

sleep each night is critical for healing, as insufficient sleep can compromise immune function. Researchers have found a higher rate of breast and prostate cancer for those who work night shifts, which may be due to a disruption in the natural circadian rhythm and suppression of melatonin pro- duction.

11. Supplement your diet According to Dr. Bruce Ames, profes-

sor of biochemistry at the University of California, we need about 40 essential vi- tamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids each day, as nutrient deficien- cies are the primary cause of the four major diseases of aging: cancer, heart disease, de- mentia, and immune system dysfunction. I recommend a quality multivitamin supple- ment, at least 5000 iu of vitamin D, 180 mcg of vitamin K2 (as MK7), and two to three grams of omega-3 (as EPA and DHA) daily, in combination with a healthy diet that ensures sufficient protein and plant phytonutrients. As Michael Pollan so beautifully stated in his book In Defense of Food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He refers to eating "real" food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and meat. Pollan suggests avoiding highly-pro- cessed packaged foods of any kind, which he calls "edible food-like substances." Specific herbs and supplements that have been shown to reduce the risk of many cancers include lignans from flax and sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, and curcumin, the antioxidant component found in tur- meric. Sulforophane is a plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and has been shown to inhibit the spread of tumours. Also found in broccoli, DIM helps balance estrogen and prevent the progression of prostate cancer cells. In one study of almost 5,000 women, supple- mentation with DIM was linked to a 35% lower risk of developing breast cancer, and a 62% lower risk of dying from cancer. Small changes to our daily routines can

make a big difference. Integrating regular exercise, striving for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and adding a few select supple- ments to your diet can improve your over- all health and reduce the risk of cancer. Nathan Zassman is the owner and presi- dent of Aviva Natural Health Solutions.

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