RSSCategory: Health

Dec

11

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin & Stop With Cinnamon Claims.

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin?

Over the past couple of days, we’ve been discussing several diabetes related topics but what about one of the most important ones, especially when it comes to keeping us type 1 diabetics alive. No I’m not talking about okra, some exotic fruit, cinnamon, or essential oil I’m talking about insulin! 

Before we go there though, for those of you who make these claims (especially about okra and cinnamon) in regards to treating or as many of you like to say “cure” type 1 diabetes, you really need to stop. Over the past year I’ve been getting bombarded with sales pitches and I’m honestly tired of it. Cinnamon is a great antioxidant and comes with some fantastic health benefits but when it comes to type 1 diabetes, don’t you think if it was that easy, it would be mainstream information and the millions of us that battle with this disease day in and day out would avoid the BS that we deal with daily?  

Or perhaps the miracle lies within the specially formulated product you are trying to sell me? Its utterly ridiculous, and the fact that you know nothing about the disease itself or how it works, you need to take a step back and take your products with you.

I mean, you realize that you produce insulin naturally, its a normal human bodily function.  What makes you think that okra, cinnamon, or your essential oil is going to magically wake up my dead beta cells (these are the cells that actually produce insulin, feel free to google, its a fascinating read).  Perhaps your cinnamon, shake or oil defies all science and type 1 diabetes research?  

Or perhaps you have magic okra that you purchased from the same person who sold Jack his beanstalk beans? Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist in your potent concoction? Either way you need to stop before you seriously put someone in a very bad predicament.

Now I can only talk about type 1 diabetes as this is what I  eat, breath and live with daily. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why, but the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as autoimmune disease.

Insulin is vital for survival because without it, simply put, life would cease to exist (including yours).  So what is insulin and why is it so important for type 1 diabetics, lets take a look!

What Is Insulin?

So the most basic question, what is insulin? When you digest food, your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose (a form of sugar). Insulin allows this glucose to enter all the cells of your body and be used as energy. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin (zero in the case of type 1, unless your in your honeymoon phase) or can’t use it properly, so the glucose builds up in your blood instead of moving into the cells. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to serious health problems.

All people who have type 1 and some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. The goal is to keep your blood sugar level in a normal range as much as possible so you’ll stay healthy. Insulin can’t be taken by mouth. It is usually taken with injections (shots). It can also be taken with an pre filled syringe or an insulin pump.

Types Of Insulin:

Manufactured insulin comes in several types that differ in the way in which they act inside the body. Each type differs in three ways:

  • Onset: The length of time after injection that the insulin begins to work
  • Peak: the length of time after injection that the insulin takes to reach its maximum effectiveness
  • Duration: the length of time in which it remains effective

The four basic types and their respective onset, peak and duration are as follows:

  • Rapid Acting: begins to work after 15 minutes, peaks in 30 to 90 minutes, and has a duration of three to four hours.
  • Short Acting: begins to work in 30 to 60 minutes, peaks in two to three hours, and has a duration of three to six hours.
  • Intermediate Acting: begins to work in 90 minutes to six hours, peaks in four to 14 hours, and has a duration of up to 24 hours.
  • Long Acting: begins to work in six to 14 hours and remains effective for 24 to 36 hours.

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Dec

5

What Is Diabetic Dermopathy, More Than Just Dry Skin?

What Is Diabetic Dermopathy, More Than Just Dry Skin?I’ve been a type 1 diabetic now for the past 12 years and I’ve heard of most of the associated complications associated with the disease, but I came across an article a couple weeks back about diabetic dermopathy shin spots and how they are more prevalent in type 1 diabetics.

Well, never hearing of it, it automatically peaked my interest and the fact that I’ve personally had a couple of sketchy spots on my lower legs over the years, I started to research diabetic dermopathy and what it was all about, so lets take a closer look!

What Causes Diabetic Dermopathy?

One of the more popular diabetic skin ailment (yay us!), diabetic dermopathy is found in more than 50% of individuals dealing with the disease. Diabetic dermopathy is a harmless condition and is likely the most common skin problem in people who have had diabetes for some time, or whose blood sugar levels are poorly controlled and remain high over a prolonged period of time.

The exact cause of diabetic dermopathy is unknown but may actually be associated with diabetic neuropathic (nerve) and vascular (blood vessels) complications, as studies have shown the condition to occur more frequently in diabetic patients with retinopathy (retinal damage of the eye), neuropathy (nerve/sensory damage) and nephropathy (kidney damage).

Diabetic dermopathy tends to occur in older patients or those who have had diabetes for at least 10-20 years. It also appears to be closely linked to increased glycosylated haemoglobin, an indicator of poor control of blood glucose levels.

Because lesions often occur over bony parts of the body such as the shins, it is thought that diabetic dermopathy may also be a magnified response to injury or trauma to these areas. Studies have shown that shin spots have appeared in response to trauma with heat, cold or blunt objects in patients with diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Dermopathy?

Diabetic dermopathy appears as pink to red or tan to dark brown patches, and it is most frequently found on the lower legs. The patches are slightly scaly and are usually round or oval. Long-standing patches may become faintly indented (atrophic).

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Nov

30

The Health Benefits Of Probiotics For Diabetics

The Health Benefits Of Probiotics For Diabetics

Ok, so there I was researching some information the other day for a particular blog post, and I came across an article pertaining to probiotics.  The fact that I’m not great at multi-tasking, I was immediately side tracked and became submerged in the world of probiotics an all their amazing health benefits.  So what are these little gems all about?  How do we go about getting them in our diet?  What about other alternatives to increasing the amount that we get?  Lets take a closer look! 

 

Well, first off, what are probiotics? Probiotics are microorganisms—such as bacteria, viruses and yeasts—that can be seen only under a microscope and that are often referred to as “healthy” or “good” bacteria.  According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and defined by the World Health Organization, probiotics are “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.   The benefits of incorporating probiotics into one’s diet have been widely speculated, as little evidence exists to support the long-term health benefits.  Despite the lack of formal evidence, the probiotic trend has swept the health and diet industries for their potential cleansing benefits, immune boosting powers and nutritional value.

Benefits Of Probiotics:

Probiotics are believed to protect us in two ways.  The first is the role is how probiotics play in our digestive tract. We know that our digestive tract needs a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria, so what gets in the way of this?  It looks like our lifestyle is both the problem and the solution.  Foods high in probiotics (Kombucha, Kefir, pickles, tempeh, just to name a few)  are an amazing way to start getting more into your system, but poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products.  On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria.  Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones.  The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good.  An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

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Nov

27

Diabetes And The Glycemic Index, Is It Really Accurate?

Diabetes And The Glycemic Index, Is It Really Accurate?As a type 1 diabetic, the glycemic index use to be near and dear to my heart, well, that’s until I found out the glycemic load. How do the two differ?  Last week I posted about the the glycemic load, but what is the glycemic index and how do they differ?  Lets take a closer look!

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a numerical scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level.  A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level.

An awareness of foods’ Glycemic Index can help you control your blood sugar levels, and by doing so, may help you prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, prevent insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, prevent certain cancers, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.  A substantial amount of research suggests a low GI diet provides these significant health benefits. So, it’s worth taking a look at the basic principles of a low GI way of eating.

Why The Glycemic Index Is Important?

Your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant.  If your blood sugar drops too low, you become lethargic and/or experience increased hunger.  And if it goes too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin.  Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, but primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat.  Also, the greater the rate of increase in your blood sugar, the more chance that your body will release an excess amount of insulin, and drive your blood sugar back down too low.

Therefore, when you eat foods that cause a large and rapid glycemic response, you may feel an initial elevation in energy and mood as your blood sugar rises, but this is followed by a cycle of increased fat storage, lethargy, and more hunger!  Although increased fat storage may sound bad enough, individuals with diabetes (diabetes mellitus, types 1 and 2) have an even worse problem.  Their bodies inability to secrete or process insulin causes their blood sugar to rise too high, leading to a host of additional medical problems.

The theory behind the Glycemic Index is simply to minimize insulin-related problems by identifying and avoiding foods that have the greatest effect on your blood sugar.

High Glycemic Index Foods And Health Problems:

What researchers have learned is that high glycemic index foods generally make blood sugar levels higher. In addition, people who eat a lot of high glycemic index foods tend to have greater levels of body fat, as measured by the body mass index (BMI). High BMIs are linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

High glycemic index foods include many carbohydrates such as:

  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Low-fiber cereals
  • Baked goods

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Nov

21

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Help Share The Warning Signs:

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs: As diabetics chances are we’ve all experienced those dreaded lows, but what are they? What can we do as type 1 diabetics to avoid them and more importantly, what can we do to prevent them?  Lets take a closer look and examine hypoglycemia!

The body’s most important fuel is glucose, a type of sugar. When you digest most foods, sugar is released, and that sugar ends up in your bloodstream as glucose.

Your body, particularly your brain and nervous system, needs a certain level of glucose to function — not too much, and not too little. If your blood glucose level isn’t right, your body will react by showing certain symptoms.

Hypoglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels are abnormally low, and it’s a potentially serious condition. If you know someone who has diabetes, you may have heard them talk about “insulin shock,” which is the common name for a severe hypoglycemic reaction.

People with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia if they don’t eat enough or if they take too much insulin — the medicine most commonly used to treat diabetes with those who suffer from type 1.

Causes Of Hypoglycemia:

Most cases of hypoglycemia in adults happen in people with diabetes mellitus. Diabetes has two forms, type 1 (loss of all insulin production) and type 2 (inadequate insulin production due to resistance to the actions of insulin).

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control their glucose level; if they skip meals or have a decreased appetite without changing their insulin dose, BAM, you guessed it, bring on the low!

Insulin is also used to treat some people with type 2 diabetes. If a person with type 1 diabetes accidentally takes too much insulin, or a person with type 2 diabetes accidentally takes too much of their oral medications or insulin, he or she may develop hypoglycemia.

Even when a diabetic patient takes medications correctly, improper meals, odd mealtimes, or excessive exercise may result in hypoglycemia.

Classic Signs Of Hypoglycemia:

Symptoms of a low blood sugar will vary depending on the individual, but here is a list of most of the common ones that I’ve personally experienced.  It should be noted that low blood sugars can occur suddenly and the most common low sugar symptoms include:

  • blurry vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • sudden mood changes
  • sudden nervousness
  • unexplained fatigue
  • pale skin
  • headache
  • hunger
  • shaking
  • sweating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin tingling
  • trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • loss of consciousness

If you have hypoglycemic unawareness, a condition in which you do not know your blood sugar level is dropping, your blood sugar can drop so quickly you may not even have warning symptoms. When this occurs, you can faint, experience a seizure, or even go into a coma.  I had the unfortunate experience of a seizure a couple of years ago, definitely not something that I want to deal with again.

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Nov

14

What Is A Diabetic Seizure, Warning Signs And Symptoms:

What Is A Diabetic Seizure?As diabetics we should all be very familiar with hypoglycemia but for those who are not, what is hypoglycemia and how can it effect us?

Hypoglycemia is the clinical syndrome that results from low blood sugar. The symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from person to person, as can the severity as I’ve personally dealt with in the past when my severe low was accompanied with a seizure.

This was the first time this as ever happened to me since being diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic over 11 years ago now.  While I don’t remember the seizure itself, lets just say we made it a memorable experience for the community as it happened at my sons fall soccer tournament.  So what is a hypoglycemic seizure and what are the warning signs of having a seizure?  Lets take a closer look!

What Is A Hypoglycemic Seizure:

So what causes a seizure? A hypoglycemic seizure may be triggered by injecting too much insulin, or failing to eat soon enough after using a fast acting insulin (exactly what happened to me); excessive use of alcohol, skipping meals,or exercising vigorously without adjusting insulin dosages or eating properly.

A seizure may also be triggered by oral diabetes medications that cause the pancreas to produce more insulin. Whatever the cause of the seizure, it needs to be treated as a medical emergency. To identify the onset of ahypoglycemic seizure,look for the following warning signs of seizures and symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Feeling faint or too sleepy
  • Shakiness
  • Feeling cold or clammy
  • Hallucinations
  • Unexplained emotional behaviors
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Unaware of surroundings
  • Changes in vision
  • Loss of ability to speak clearly
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety 

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Nov

12

The Cost Of Fast Acting Insulin, Are There Cheaper Alternatives?

Fast Acting Insulin Side Effects As diabetics, we are all well aware of fast acting insulin and the vital role it plays when it comes to keeping us alive and upright, but for those newly diagnosed diabetics (type 1 and type 2), Insulin is secreted by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, a small organ between the stomach and liver. This hormone regulates the sugar levels in the human body. When the pancreas stops secreting insulin, it results in hyperglycemia which is a common and lethal symptom of diabetes.

There are several rapid acting insulin brands, and  as a type 1 diabetic, I am extremely reliant upon fast acting insulin, Novolog in particular. When discussing a topic over on The Organic Diabetic Facebook page, we got onto the subject of all the negative side effects associated with insulin and blood sugar regulation.  So for all you newly diagnosed type 1’s, lets take a peek at some of the most dangerous side effects associated with fast acting insulin.  Also, what drives the cost of insulin and are there programs to help defer the costs?  Lets take a closer look! 

Diabetes And Insulin:

Less common, but potentially more serious, is generalized allergy to fast acting insulin, which may cause rash (including pruritus) over the whole body, shortness of breath, wheezing, reduction in blood pressure, rapid pulse, or sweating. Severe cases of generalized allergy, including anaphylactic reaction, may be life threatening. Localized reactions and generalized myalgias have been reported with the use of cresol as an injectable excipient (preservative to keep insulin potent).

Fast Acting And Hyperglycemia:

Hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, or diabetic coma may develop if the patient takes less fast acting insulin than needed to control blood glucose levels. This could be due to insulin demand during illness or infection, neglect of diet, omission or improper administration of prescribed fast acting insulin doses.

A developing ketoacidosis will be revealed by urine tests which show large amounts of sugar and acetone. The symptoms of polydipsia, polyurea, loss of appetite, fatigue, dry skin and deep and rapid breathing come on gradually, usually over a period of some hours or days. Severe sustained hyperglycemia may result in diabetic coma or death.

Fast Acting Insulin And Lipodystrophy

Long-term use of fast acting insulin, can cause lipodystrophy at the site of repeated insulin injections or infusion. Lipodystrophy includes lipohypertrophy (thickening of adipose tissue) and lipoatrophy (thinning of adipose tissue), and may affect insulin absorption. Its extremely important to rotate insulin injection or infusion sites within the same region to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy.
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Oct

30

Type 1 Eating Disorders, What Is Diabulimia?

Type 1 Eating Disorders, What Is Diabulimia?Honestly, when it comes to dealing with type 1 diabetes, eating disorders is not the first thing that comes to mind. As a type 1 diabetic, I was shocked when I first heard about the eating disorder (diabulimia) and its association with type 1 diabetics.

Most people are familiar with the more widely known eating disorders anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and even binge eating disorder, but few recognize the link between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and eating disorders (and yes, I was one of those people).

Curious about what this eating disorder was all about, and thanks to Amy (a frequent visitor of the website) and her sharing her empowering story about her personal battle with diabulimia, I decided to do a little research, so lets take a closer look!

Diabulimia Symptoms:

Although not yet officially recognized as a medical condition, diabulimia is nevertheless a serious and emerging problem.  Experts predict that as many as one-third of young female diabetics could be suffering as a result of this condition.  Diabulimia is an eating disorder in which people with type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need for the purpose of weight loss.  When insulin is omitted, calories are purged through the loss of glucose in the urine.  Individuals with diabulimia manipulate insulin as an inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain.

How Does Diabulimia Effect The Body:

The side effects of manipulating and omitting insulin from the body can be serious and dangerous.

Blood sugar levels can surge and reach an unhealthy level, leading to fatigue, dehydration and eventually wearing of the muscle tissue. Over a long-term, the symptoms are the same as badly managed diabetes.  Although diabulimia is not a new condition, medical and mental health professionals are becoming more aware of the symptoms of diabulimia.  The following are a few of the warning signs that an individual with diabetes may also be developing an eating disorder:

  • Changes in eating habits (e.g., eating more but still losing weight)
    Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Poor metabolic control despite the appearance of compliance
  • Low self-esteem or preoccupation with body image, weight or food intake
  • Frequent urination, excessive thirst or high blood sugar levels
  • Low energy, fatigue, shakiness, irritability, confusion, anxiety or fainting
  • Purging behaviors (e.g., excessive exercise or the use of laxatives)
  • Discomfort with eating or taking insulin in front of other people
  • Hoarding food
  • Unwillingness to follow through with medical appointments
  • Recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis

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Oct

24

Ketoacidosis In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs.

Ketoacidosis In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs.As a type 1 diabetic I am quite familiar (unfortunately) with the signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) results from lack of insulin associated with high blood levels and your body starts to produce high levels of blood acids called ketones.  Diabetic ketoacidosis is associated with significant disturbances of the body’s chemistry, which resolve with proper therapy.

This usually occurs in people with type 1 diabetes, but DKA can develop in any person with diabetes.  Since type 1 diabetes typically starts before the age of 25, diabetic ketoacidosis is most common for this age group, but it may occur at any age with both males and females are equally affected. So is DKA something that we should be worried about? Lets take a closer look!

What Causes Ketoacidosis ?

So what’s the deal when our results come back showing ketones in urine? Circumstances arise for people with type 1 diabetes when the individual does not have enough insulin, a hormone the body uses to break down sugar (glucose) in the blood for energy. When glucose is not available to feed our cells due to high blood sugars, fat is broken down and used as fuel vs glucose and this is particularly not a good thing.  As fats are broken down, acids called ketones build up in the blood and urine.  In high levels, ketones are extremely poisonous.  This condition is known as ketoacidosis.

Blood glucose levels rise (usually higher than 300 mg/dL) because the liver makes glucose to try to combat the problem.  However, the cells cannot pull in that glucose without insulin.

DKA is often the first sign of type 1 diabetes in people who do not yet have other symptoms.  It can also occur in someone who has already been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Infection, injury, a serious illness, missing doses of insulin, or surgery can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis in people with type 1 diabetes.

Although not common, people with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but it is rare and typically triggered by a severe illness.

What Are The Warning Signs Of DKA?

DKA usually develops slowly. But when vomiting occurs, this life-threatening condition can develop in a few hours. Early symptoms per the American Diabetes Association include the following:

  • Thirst or a very dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • High blood glucose (blood sugar) levels
  • High levels of ketones in the urine

Then, other symptoms appear:

  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
    (Vomiting can be caused by many illnesses, not just ketoacidosis. If vomiting continues for more than 2 hours, contact your health care provider.)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fruity odor on breath
  • A hard time paying attention, or confusion

Any of these symptoms should immediately be discussed with your doctor and they will let you know the next course of action, including treatment options or better yet, a trip to the ER may be in order especially if you can flush them from your system.  Speaking of treatment options, what can you expect?  Lets take a closer look.

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Oct

18

Flaxseed Health Benefits, Can Flaxseed Help Your Blood Sugars?

Flaxseed Health BenefitsI just love flaxseed, and one I supplement with daily.  Flaxseed has an amazing amount of benefits to help promote overall health. In saying that, how can one find flaxseed? What actual benefits does organic flaxseed provide? Can it help prevent your blood sugars from spiking? For that and much, much more, continue reading!

Flaxseed oil is an excellent supplement that supports the body’s vital systems. It is rich in the omega-3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Although omega-3s are crucial to human health, they are not manufactured by the body, so it’s important to get a steady supply through dietary sources and supplements.

There are two types of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. Most Americans get enough omega-6 fatty acids from dietary sources such as meat, eggs and dairy. Omega-3s are necessary for growth, heart health and brain function, but many of us do not get enough of them from dietary sources. MayoClinic.com reports that multiple studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

These supplements have also been studied as a treatment for depression and other mental illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, ADHD, osteoporosis, and even cancer prevention.

Benefits Of Flaxseed:

Flaxseed oil offers a wide range of health benefits. There are some studies showing that flaxseed oil can reduce total cholesterol and LDL (low density lipoprotien also known as bad cholesterol). This, however, is dependent on how well the alpha-linolenic acid is broken down into EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil is likely to make platelets less sticky, which could help to reduce the risk of heart attack.

Flaxseed may also lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels (fat in the blood). Flaxseed oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to regulate the heartbeat, further supporting good cardiovascular health. In addition, the flax seed contains compounds called lignans. Studies show that patients taking lignans had a 75% reduction in atherosclerotic plaque buildup.

Flaxseed itself is recommended for those who suffer from Crohns disease or irritable bowel syndrome because it is thought to be able to heal the lining of the stomach and reduce inflammation.

The ALA found in flaxseed inhibited tumor growth and incidence in animal studies. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed are thought to bind to estrogen receptors, reducing the risk of estrogen driven breast cancer.

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