Detecting Breast Cancer Early

Performing regular breast self-exams can make all the difference in women’s health.


That’s why adult women are often advised to perform a breast self-exam at least once a month.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here’s what you need to know about detecting breast cancer.

The first step you can take is to know how your breasts normally look and feel. These tests may not be perfect, but breast cancer self-exams can help women stay on top of their health by watching for any changes and bringing them to a doctor’s attention.

However, performing a breast self-exam does not take the place of regular mammograms and other screening tests. Because mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, screening is very important for early detection. And early breast cancer detection has been linked to higher chances of survival. Speak to your doctor about how often you should be screened for breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer. However, breast cancers can be tender, soft or rounded. In some cases, the mass may be painful. Regardless of the specifics of the mass, report any new breast mass, lump, or change to your health care provider to have it evaluated further.

Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include the following:

  • Swelling of all or part of a breast, even if no distinct lump can be felt
  • Skin dimpling that may be similar in appearance to an orange peel
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (nipples that turn inward)
  • Redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

How to Conduct a Breast Self-Exam

Step 1: Stand in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and your hands placed firmly on your hips. According to, you should check your breasts for changes. Bring any changes — like dimpling or bulging of the skin, nipple changes, redness, rash, swelling and soreness — to your doctor’s attention.

Step 2: Bring your hands together straight above your head. In this position, check your breasts for changes. Also look for any fluid discharge from the nipples.

Step 3: Lie down and put a pillow beneath your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head, the National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends. With the first few fingers of your left hand, make small, circular motions around your right breast and armpit, feeling for lumps. Make sure to use a firm and smooth touch. Keep your fingers flat and together. Repeat for the left breast.

Step 4: Perform another exam while standing in the shower. Check for any lumps or other changes by pressing your breasts and armpits with the pads of your fingers. Cover the entire breast, using the same technique listed in step 3. If you notice any changes, tell your doctor as soon as you can, but don’t panic. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, around 8 out of 10 lumps on the breasts are actually not cancerous.

When Is the Best Time to Perform a Breast Self-Exam?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, women should perform a breast self-exam around the same time every month. The timing becomes important because breast tissue is affected by the normal hormonal fluctuations in women’s bodies. Performing a self-exam at the same time each month can help women differentiate between a normal change and something that feels different.

For example, women who have not gone through menopause are recommended to perform their breast self-exam toward the end of their menstrual period. The end of the menstrual cycle is the time when the breasts are the least tender and the changes in hormones are less likely to affect the breast tissue. Women who have gone through menopause are recommended to select a day of the month and consistently perform their self-exam on that particular day.



National Breast Cancer Foundation, “Breast Self-Exam”, “The Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam”American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms”Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Breast Self-Exams”Lee Caplan. Delay in Breast Cancer: Implications for Stage at Diagnosis and Survival. Front Public Health. 2014; 2: 87.

How COVID-19 Is Affecting Flu Season

Wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and other precautions may be preventing the spread of more than just COVID-19.


Cases of the flu appear to be lower this year than in previous years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And that is likely because of all the precautions the public is taking to prevent COVID-19.

After communities adopted widespread measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, the number of specimens submitted to labs for flu testing went from a positivity rate of more than 20 percent to a rate of just over 2 percent, the CDC reported.

Why? Because many of the same measures used to prevent COVID-19 have the same preventive effect against the flu, health officials said. After all, they are both viruses that attack the respiratory system.

In an article published by the journal Nature, an epidemiologist with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said the flu is less contagious than COVID-19. Health officials expected a decrease in the flu and other respiratory viruses after everyone started social distancing and wearing masks, but the decline in flu cases was sharper than they thought.

The flu vaccine also played a part in reducing flu cases this season, the CDC noted.

“Influenza vaccination of all persons aged ≥6 months remains the best method for influenza prevention and is especially important this season when SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus might cocirculate,” according to the agency in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The Nature article pointed out that the number of people receiving the flu vaccine in the US has been going up for several years. Last year, more than 50 percent of the US population older than 6 years old got the flu vaccine.

Health experts also pointed out that other viruses seem to have been slowed by pandemic safety measures. For example, respiratory syncytial virus and several viruses tied to the common cold saw steep declines around the world.

What does this mean for future flu seasons? According to the CDC, “Some mitigation measures might have a role in reducing transmission in future influenza seasons.”

Speak with your health care provider about how to protect yourself from COVID-19, the flu and other viruses.


Citation: Nature, “How COVID-19 is changing the cold and flu season”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Decreased Influenza Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, Australia, Chile, and South Africa, 2020”

Medicines and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman’s life. However, because some medications are safe during pregnancy and others are not, it can also be a confusing time.


If you are pregnant and need to take medications, you are not alone. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 50 percent of women report taking at least one medication during pregnancy.

Some women have to take medications for diabetes, thyroid issues, high blood pressure, or pregnancy-related issues like morning sickness or constipation. Because not all medications are safe to take during pregnancy, the best thing you can do if you are not sure is ask questions. Ask your pharmacist or obstetrician all the questions you have before you take any medications during pregnancy.

Even supplements labeled as herbal and natural may not be safe to take while pregnant, so ask before you start taking them.

Be sure to ask the following questions:

  1. Will I need to change my medicines if I want to get pregnant?
  2. How might this medicine affect my baby?
  3. Will I need to take more or less of my medicine during pregnancy?

Ask your obstetrician which prenatal vitamins are the best option for you, as well as how much folic acid you need. To find out how much folic acid is necessary to prevent birth defects, check out “Folic Acid and Pregnancy.”

Always read the label on the medication. The warnings will likely include something like, “If you are pregnant, ask a doctor before use.” If you are not sure, it is best to always ask your doctor. And even if you read online that a certain medication is safe, it is always best to confirm with your doctor.

Not all medications are safe to take during pregnancy. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), are not recommended during pregnancy.

A few generally safe options are listed below, but you should still ask your health care provider before taking any medication during pregnancy:

  • Allergies: antihistamines like Zyrtec and Claritin
  • Common cold: Tylenol, Vitamin C
  • Congestion: neti pot (use only distilled water), saline nasal spray
  • Headache: Tylenol

Speak with your pharmacist or obstetrician before taking any new medication, herbal supplement or vitamin.


Citation: US Food and Drug Administration, “Medicine and Pregnancy”

Cholesterol: What Are Your Numbers?

Understanding cholesterol is the first step in managing your cholesterol levels.

The best way to know your cholesterol level is to have a fasting blood test known as a lipid panel. A lipid panel examines total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), HDL(high-density lipoprotein) and triglyceride levels. These categories are examined below.

Total cholesterol:

  • A measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood
  • Based on the HDL, LDL and triglyceride numbers

LDL cholesterol:

  • Majority of the body’s cholesterol
  • Delivers cholesterol to the body
  • Known as “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries

HDL cholesterol:

  • Absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, where cholesterol is removed from the body
  • Known as “good” cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke


  • Type of fat found in your blood, which your body uses for energy
  • High levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol can increase heart attack and stroke risk

To prepare for your lipid panel, you must “fast” (not eat or drink anything) for at least eight hours before the blood test. You can drink water during the fast. Discuss specific fasting requirements with your doctor or laboratory.

To get an idea of what your results might mean, see the chart below:

Total Cholesterol Level Total Cholesterol Category
Less than 200 mg/dL Desirable
200-239 mg/dL Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above High
LDL (“Bad”) Cholesterol Level LDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
100-129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 mg/dL Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above Very high
HDL (“Good”) Cholesterol Level HDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 40 mg/dL A major risk factor for heart disease
40-59 mg/dL The higher, the better
60 mg/dL and higher Protective against heart disease
Triglycerides Triglycerides Category
Less than 150 mg/dL Normal level
150-199 mg/dL Borderline high
200-499 mg/dL High
500 mg/dL or higher Very high

Speak with your health care provider about your numbers and how best to manage your cholesterol.

Stress-Free Summer


Summer isn’t only about swimming and vacations — it can be a stressful time for many people. If you are stressed this summer, try these five tips.

Stress is part of everyday life. In fact, sometimes it’s normal and not all bad. It can actually motivate people to prepare or perform. For example, stress may boost your performance when you take a test. It can even save lives in some situations.

However, stress can negatively affect your health. It can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. If stress becomes chronic — meaning it lasts for too long — it starts to affect many systems in your body, such as your immune system. People under chronic stress tend to be more vulnerable to illnesses like the flu or common cold.

Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Because no one’s life is completely stress-free, it is important to know how to manage stress this summer and all year long.

1) Learn Your Stressors

Learn your triggers, or stressors. Stressors may include family, work and relationships.

If you cannot pinpoint your stress, try writing in a journal when you are feeling stressed and then looking for a pattern. This can help you avoid stressors in the future. For example, if you know a health problem is stressing you out, speak with your health care provider. He or she can help you better manage your health and, as a result, reduce your stress.

By reducing your stress, you are, in turn, helping to prevent the negative toll stress can have on your health — a win-win.

2) Take Care of Your Body

Make sure you are eating well-balanced meals, getting enough sleep and exercising daily. Hunger can worsen stressful situations. Do not skip meals, and always have healthy, energy-boosting snacks on hand. In addition, avoid high-sugar snack foods. Instead, opt for vegetables, lean proteins, fruits and whole grains.

A lack of sleep can also compound stress. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night so your body and mind are well-rested. Also, try to limit alcohol and caffeine intake. These substances may aggravate stress or anxiety. Instead, try drinking more water.

Staying active is also an important part of reducing stress. When you exercise, the brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. Did you know dancing and golfing count as exercise? Find something you enjoy and aim for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Find an exercise partner to keep you motivated.

Be sure to ask your health care provider before starting an exercise program, as not all exercise programs are safe for everyone.

3) Do Something You Like

When you are feeling stressed, do something you enjoy, such as baking, gardening or dancing. This can help you relax and take your mind off of what’s stressing you out.

4) Relax

Meditation, yoga, tai chi and other gentle exercises are all relaxing activities that can reduce stress. Try to schedule regular times for these activities.

Also, try taking slow, deep breaths or slowly counting to 10. The best part about deep breathing is that you can practice this technique almost anywhere and at any time. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Sit still or lie down. Next, place one hand on your stomach and place your other hand over your heart.
  • Inhale slowly until you feel your stomach rise. Hold your breath for a moment.
  • Exhale slowly. Feel your stomach fall. Repeat.

If this doesn’t help, try taking a quick timeout to meditate or listen to music. Stepping back from problems and performing these relaxation techniques may clear your head.

5) Ask for Help

Stay connected with people you can count on for support. Ask friends and family members for help. Speak with a health care professional like a physician or therapist if you need professional help.

Everyone faces stress occasionally, but it can be managed. For more tips on how to manage stress, speak with your local pharmacist.

Do You Drink Enough Water?

Are you drinking enough water? Sometimes, it can be hard to tell whether you’re getting enough water to stay healthy.

People tend to forget the health benefits of water, but it’s important to remember that water benefits your body in many ways.

Drinking water gets rid of waste through urination, sweating and bowel movements. Water protects joints and keeps the body’s temperature normal. It also protects the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues in the body.

Drinking too little water can lead to dehydration. Dehydration symptoms include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat

Dehydration can become severe. If you experience the following symptoms of severe dehydration, seek emergency medical attention immediately:

  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness

If your body is dehydrated and can’t cool itself properly, you can experience heat illness. This involves three stages: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

On average, the recommended daily fluid intake for men is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women.

However, the recommended daily water intake is different for everyone — water consumption is not one size fits all. Factors like how hot and humid it is outside, how much you exercise, your sweat rate, how active you are and pregnancy will determine how much water you should drink.

That’s why it’s important to speak with your health care provider about the amount of water you should drink every day.

When you’re determining how much water to drink every day, remember that fluids can come from sources other than water. An estimated 20 percent of daily fluid intake actually comes from the foods you eat. In fact, some foods can provide a significant amount of fluid. Some vegetables and fruits, such as watermelon, are almost 100 percent water by weight.

Even if you don’t like the taste of water, there are many ways to get your recommended daily fluid intake. Here are some ideas to increase your intake:

  • Add lemon or cucumber slices to water to make the taste more appealing.
  • Add electrolyte drink mixes to water.
  • Drink flavored sparkling water.
  • Drink low-fat milk, teas or low-sugar juices.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water, such as watermelon, spinach and celery.

How to prepare your children for a healthy school year

Summer is more than halfway over, and that means another school year is approaching. How should you prepare your kids for school?

Here are some important health issues to be aware of as you get your children school-ready.

Head Lice

These parasitic insects are mostly found among human hairs. They feed on blood from the scalp. They are highly contagious and spread through head-to-head contact. Classic symptoms include constant scratching of the head that does not subside, small red bumps and a rash. If you notice any of these symptoms, inspect the scalp for any tiny yellow or brown lice eggs or for grayish-white, sesame seed-sized lice.

Talk to your health care provider to come up with a plan to best treat your child and household. Treatment can vary, depending on your child’s age and what you have previously tried.

Before school starts, tell your child to avoid head-to-head contact, not to share personal items that touch the hair, and not to lie on things or places used by someone with lice. Finally, check the school’s return policy, which in most cases only requires one topical treatment before returning to school.

Back Problems

Even with lockers at school, increasing school loads are forcing children to carry heavier bags. If your children’s bags look too heavy, there may be cause for concern.

When carrying heavy shoulder bags, there is uneven weight on the shoulders. While the short-term effects of soreness may be nothing unusual, in the long term, a heavy shoulder bag can contribute to the spine curving sideways, a condition known as scoliosis.

On the other hand, backpacks pull you backward instead of sideways. This can contribute to a condition called kyphosis, also known as a hunchback, due to the effort to hunch forward while carrying the backpack.

Bags should be less than 10 percent of the carrier’s body weight. If a heavier bag is unavoidable, try using larger straps or carrying shoulder bags closer to the body and alternating sides.

Vision Problems

Vision change happens frequently in children and can lead to problems with behavior and attention in the classroom. Because simple vision screenings at school cannot detect the actual health of the eyes, you may want to have your kids take a complete eye exam before school starts.

For sports and outdoor activities, make sure your child wears proper, well-fitting eye protection. Also, teach your child to follow the 20-20-20 rule when using digital devices. This means taking 20-second breaks every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away during the breaks.

Most health insurance policies cover pediatric eye exams. If you notice any vision problems in your child, such as squinting, headaches, holding books close to the face or a short attention span, schedule an appointment with an optometrist.

Are Male’s Lack of Knowlege Leading to Higher Infertility Rates?

infertility amongst men

Male infertility is on the rise, and doctors may finally have a first step at combatting it. A new study suggests that it’s the men’s lack of information (or, you could call it ignorance) that may be the culprit here. While women are researching the causes of infertiliy from the first signs of infertility, men have taken a back seat to self-education.

It’s widely known that half of infertile couples are due to male infertility, yet most men have little knowledge of the risk factors that contribute to the inability to conceive naturally.

In a study published in the November issue of the journal Human Reproduction, men could identify only about 50% of the potential risks and health conditions that could significantly affect their sperm count and fertility.

The Journal of Human Reproduction’s survey studied more than 700 Canadian men aged 18 to 50 with a range of ethnic backgrounds, income, and education, and asked them to identify factors associated with male infertility. Most of the men were able to identify the more common or well-known infertility risk factors such as cancer, smoking, and steroid use, but very few were able to identify lesser-known causes like obesity, frequent bicycling, and using portable computers on their lap.

According to Dr. Phyllis Zelkowitz, a professor and researcher of psychiatry at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital, “Men tend to ask fewer questions about their health when they go to the doctor.”

So the solution? Besides the obvious solution of encouraging men to do their own online research, men should look up male education programs, online groups geared towards male infertility, and group meetups that allow men to share their experiences together, and utilize their time with their doctors to inquire about infertility risk factors.

What are good questions to ask during an IVF consult?

For those experiencing infertility for the first time, the initial consult with the doctor can be scary and overwhelming! What do you ask, how many questions should you ask, and how do you even know where to start?! The initial consultation is a great opportunity to learn as much as you can about both infertility in general, and your specific case in a short time, and you’ll want to take advantage of it.

If you are seeing a good doctor (which, hopefully you are as fertility is not something to skimp on), he or she should guide you through the process and be prepared with the answers to the questions you should be asking, without you having to ask them. Sometimes letting the doctor provide a lot of the initial information in a systematic way can be very helpful and make it easier to understand.

If you have reached the point of having an IVF consult, you have likely have eliminated most, if not all, other options of conceiving naturally, so a list of questions might have already started brewing in your mind. When you sit down to discuss this with your IVF doctor, its important that you bring every one of your thoughts, concerns, and questions to the table to ensure that your clinic is the right one for you.

A great place to start before going into your initial fertility consultation appointment, is to check as many online resources as possible to gain as much knowledge on your own as you can. A few trusted fertility resources include: SART, and

Next, the questions. Here is a list that make a great starting point for your fertility consultation:

Clinic Procedural Questions:

  • Do they offer a shared risk program? (Some clinics offer a flat rate, 3 fresh, 3 frozen cycles package)
  • What is their policy on embryo transfers? 1 or 2? (Some people feel that clinics that are willing to transfer more than 2 are in it more for the positive ratings of pregnancy then the health and wellness of baby and mom. In the 20’s-30’s age bracket 2 transfers is the norm, while in the 40’s age bracket, 3 transfers is acceptable.)
  • What does a cycle look like with their clinic? What type of timeline do they use, from start to finish?
  • Who would you be working with? The nurse or the doctor? (You can also request to meet this nurse or any other person who will be directly supporting you in your fertility journey.)
  • Is the clinic open for retrievals and transfers on weekends?
Clinic Success Questions:
  • Request information about the clinic’s past success rates: ask for the number of cycles they have done and their successes/failures.
  • What is the clinics pregnancy success rate with people in your age bracket with similar infertility issues?
  • How often does the clinic see OHSS cases (hyperstimulation – this typically this happens when the doctor overstimulates – we’re looking for low numbers here).
Personal Success Questions:
  • Based on your medical history, what specific challenges do they foresee?
  • Given your medical history, what percentage of success rate do they foresee for you to get pregnant with one fresh cycle?
  • Clinics have a “base” medical IVF standard they use when starting patients on a med program. One thing you will want to know is based on your medical and fertility history, how will they adjust the medications specifically for you? (For example, if you have low progesterone, your doctor might determine you’d be at an advantage to start you higher than they typically do.)
  • What kinds of fertility medications do they recommend for your particular kind of infertility, which are the cheapest fertility meds, which are the most trusted fertility medications, and which meds have they personally seen the most success with, for similar cases as yours?


Ask as many follow-up questions as you need to to feel comfortable, and don’t leave with any left hanging. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers that you are given. If they start using medical jargon, abbreviations, or fertility medication or procedure terms you’re not familiar with, stop them to ask them what certain medications or abbreviations mean. Your goal is to walk out of this appointment knowing that you understand the journey ahead of you, and have a firm understanding of what that specific fertility clinic or doctor can do for you and your specific case.

With a huge influx of facts and figures thrown at you, you may feel a bit overwhelmed when you leave. It’s okay to take time to decompress. Use your support units, partner, trusted friends or family members. If you still have questions, call the clinic back. And remember that you are a customer, paying them to provide a service, so you have absolutely every right to feel comfortable, satisfied, and safe during the entire fertility process.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): The Five Most Important Things to Know

If you’re reading this article you likely already know that Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is when a woman’s estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are out of balance. This results in growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries), which cause problems with a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance. Now, for some thing you might not already know about PCOS:

  1. Women with PCOS may experience many things including gaining weight easier, have more hair growth, mood swings, irregular periods, or have difficulty getting pregnant.
  2. Diet and exercise may not be enough to keep you healthy. Speak with your doctor about the necessity of specialty medications to help manage your PCOS.
  3. The cysts in your ovaries may not be actual cysts, but may be eggs that were unable to grow enough to reach ovulation.
  4. There is not 1 test to diagnose PCOS. Usually, your physician will order an ultrasound and/or do blood work to determine if you actually have PCOS. For this reason, it is important to talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms stated earlier so that you can be diagnosed early.
  5. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women, however it can be treated.

Kings Pharmacy located in Brooklyn, NY has the lowest possible prices for infertility medications. We are able to help women in many different states to get their medications quickly and our friendly staff is always available to help answer any of your pharmaceutical questions. Call 1-800-795-4647 today for more information!