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Quick facts on metastatic breast cancer

Metastatic breast cancer starts in the breast but then spreads to other parts of the body. For example, it could spread to the bones or the lungs. It’s also referred to as stage 4 or advanced breast cancer. It is the most severe form of the disease. 

Although rates of recovery from metastatic breast cancer are lower than for other forms of cancer, the number of U.S. women living with the disease is growing. New treatments can lessen symptoms and keep the cancer from spreading further, helping women live longer.

A recent study from the National Cancer Institute found:

  • In 2020, an estimated 168,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer.
  • The five-year survival rate of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is increasing, especially among women aged 15 to 39.
  • About one-third of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have lived with it for five or more years.
  • Some women may live 10 or more years after being diagnosed.

More research is needed to address the health care needs of women who live with this condition, according to the study.

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Personal story: Selene Suarez | NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million people in the U.S. One of those people is Selene Suarez.

Life with lupus: Selene, who lives just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, has had lupus for 10 years. She has been dealing with symptoms like swollen joints, severe fatigue, and general inflammation and pain in her body while raising two young children and trying to take care of her family.

“My main problem is I have lupus, so it leads to arthritis and swelling and hurts pretty much my whole body,” she says. To help with the pain, Selene’s doctor prescribed opioid medication, strong drugs that help some people reduce severe pain but that can be very addictive. Though opioids helped with her pain, Selene didn’t quite feel like herself when taking them and was open to other ways of feeling better.

“Instead, you’re changing your pain into something else, a good thought or a good memory.”

– Selene Suarez

Trying mindfulness: Selene had never heard of mindfulness before her doctor mentioned a local study, which was led by National Institutes of Health-supported researcher Eric Garland, Ph.D., LCSW. “That was the very first time I heard about it. The first time you go, you think it is not going to work, but something told me, just finish it, we’ll see what happens,” Selene says.

“I had a really, really good experience.” Selene went to a local health clinic every Saturday for mindfulness treatment for two months. “First [the social worker] would talk and say to close your eyes and breathe, go here and go there, and when everything was done, she would ask, ‘How was this for you and your experience? How do you feel?’ and we would talk about it.” Selene’s provider gave her homework and different mindfulness strategies

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Vaping: What you need to know

Vapes are battery-operated devices that heat liquid with nicotine, marijuana, or flavorings. Some vapes contain other unknown substances or chemicals. When heated, the liquid turns into aerosol, which people inhale or puff.

What are other common names for vapes?

Common names include electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), e-cigarettes, e-cigs, electronic cigarettes, e-hookahs, vape pens, and mods.

What drugs are in vapes?

Common drugs include nicotine, a highly addictive drug found in tobacco products including cigarettes, and THC, the main mind-altering component of marijuana. Both can impact how a person’s lungs and brain work, especially the developing brains of teenagers. Both drugs can put teens at risk for other drug use.

Are vapes tested for safety?

Companies that sell vapes in the U.S. must apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization. The FDA reviews the products to see if they meet regulatory guidelines. Because these products are new, the FDA is still in the process of determining which ones may continue to be sold. Another challenge is that some vaping products that can be purchased online are not regulated. This means they may contain dangerous ingredients or defective parts.

Vapes vs. cigarettes

Some studies suggest that vaping nicotine may be less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes and could be a way to wean adults off smoking. However, vapes are not currently an FDA-approved quit-aid. More research is needed to further test vape safety and effectiveness for this potential use.

What are some of the dangers of e-cigarettes?

In mid-2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began reporting on cases of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, including deaths. These lung injuries are linked to vitamin E acetate, which is mostly found in vaping products containing THC, but some patients reported using a mixture of THC and

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Cold-weather wellness: Tips for staying healthy this season

Staying healthy during colder months is the first step in making sure you can enjoy all the activities the season brings. 

When you are indoors more during the fall and winter, you may be closer to other people. This can increase your chances of catching viruses that cause colds, the flu, or COVID-19. Dry winter air can also weaken natural mucus barriers in the nose, mouth, and lungs, where viruses can enter the body. 

Get a flu shot

Each year, the seasonal flu sickens millions and causes thousands of hospitalizations and flu-related deaths in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Flu vaccines are updated each year to best protect against new strains of the flu virus.

Reduce the spread 

To help reduce the spread of the flu, colds, and other viruses, including COVID-19, you should: 

  • Wash your hands frequently. It is the best way to protect yourself from catching illnesses. 
  • Wipe down surfaces around you with a sanitizing cleaner. 
  • Keep a distance from those who are sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Stay hydrated, so you can flush toxins out of your system. 
  • Get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong. 

Make nutritious choices

Eating a diet full of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains can also help you stay healthy during the colder months. Consider treats that will satisfy cravings but have less fat and added sugar, and also keep an eye on portion size. When making your food shopping list during the holidays, think about healthier alternatives to traditional comfort foods. 

Stay active

Shorter days and colder weather may lead you to exercise less. But even moderate exercise, like a brisk walk, raking leaves, or climbing stairs, can