Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin: Her Daily Health Habits After Beating Cancer
Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin is many things: a doctor, a philanthropist, a former Ford model, a former Miss Sweden, a wife, mother and also a breast cancer survivor. A year ago, she and her husband donated $16 million to open the Dubin Breast Center. The cutting-edge medical facility creates a soothing and comfortable environment by offering holistic amenities and expert medical treatment, all under one roof.
As an active woman she’s figured out a lot of great ways to achieve her goals, juggling all her hats while keeping her health at the forefront of a busy life.*Before starting any new exercise or supplement regimen, check with your physician first.
INTERVIEW WITH DR. EVA ANDERSSON-DUBIN:
You opened the Dubin Breast Center, located in Mount Sinai. What inspired you to incorporate integrative medicine and what is offered to patients?
A. The whole idea is you feel you are taking care of the whole person, not just the breast cancer. Relaxation is incorporated with massage. The massage isn’t traditional massage; it’s specific for patients where the neck, scalp and feet can be done during ultrasound. Jennifer Ashton, who is our staff masseuse, is also breast cancer survivor. She works on chemo patients while they are being treated and anxiety-ridden patients who are waiting to see the doctor, although none of our patients are kept waiting long. Jennifer is full-time and has four volunteer masseuses under her, learning from her specific techniques. So we have five massage therapists at the center. They also provide meditation and listen to patients.
Our Pilates instructor works with post-op patients, usually 6 months out after having surgery. She works on increasing range of motion because patients become tight after surgery. After hours we offer light stretching with yoga. There are 3 big waiting rooms in our center with beautiful windows overlooking Central Park. I always have fresh fruit in the waiting rooms, it’s important patients be aware of what they eat. We also have granola bars and green tea and water. There are no sodas or sweets in any waiting rooms.
In addition, we’ve incorporated hypnosis. They have done multiple studies that have shown hypnosis, right before surgery, helps speed recovery. There are many more things I want to include. It’s all based on philanthropy so our patients don’t have to pay for these additional services.
What environmental factors do you suspect might be contributing to the increase risk of breast cancer and what can women do?
A. Well, what does it matter what I think. There have been many studies done…could it be the contaminated drinking water, oil pollution etc? Tobacco use and estrogen replacement in menopause have been shown to be risk factors. There are many things it could be but we really only know of one strong link, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes; with these genes the chance of breast cancer is very big.
“Another thing that has definitely been recognized recently by researchers is a woman’s Vitamin D level”
When a woman is diagnosed now, most oncologists will check for Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D levels have been shown to be low in women diagnosed with breast cancer. A woman’s Vitamin D needs to be kept within normal range, above 35. It’s practically impossible to eat in a way to get enough Vitamin D. In the past, we were outside more, we got Vitamin D from sunshine on our skin. Now, we work more indoors and we are obsessed with sunscreen. Using sunscreen is good because we are protecting ourselves from skin cancer, but our Vitamin D needs to be supplemented.
The Dubin Breast Center lists overuse of alcohol as a risk factor. Many women love wine, what is considered overuse?
A. It’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday night excessive drinking and binge drinking that is a problem. Half a glass of wine with dinner would be fine in my opinion.
The difficult thing is to not drink more once you’ve had half a glass with dinner. If you have a tendency to have more after that, then it’s best to not drink at all.
What recommendations do you have for strengthening a woman’s health?
A. Exercise helps, 30 to 45 minutes per day, 7 days a week…even brisk walking, any kind of movement. It’s easier than people think. I understand you have to be up early and come home late and it’s hard at times to get to a workout class. I’m bad at making a class and I’ve never had a trainer. So a great way to get in exercise is to multi-task. If you live in a city, walk to the subway and get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way. If you watch TV, do it while on the treadmill. Take your kids for a walk in the evening.
“Do exercise while getting something else done at the same time”
Going to any meeting, I use a kick scooter or I walk or slightly jog. I always wear great comfortable shoes and have a little backpack with a little heel I can change in to. Try not to carry big heavy things because they keep you from doing more walking. I’m a big proponent of backpacks; they distribute weight evenly. Keeping your back straight and good posture is very important and it’s harder to do with a purse. Also, if you spend a lot of time on the phone you can use a headset and do weights or stretchy bands while on calls. There’s also this small stair stepper that’s great, it just two steps and a woman can have that in their office. Another easy exercise you can do is lean with your back against a wall and bend at the knees like you’re in a chair, which strengthens legs. It’s something you can do during a conference call. If you add in lots of movement throughout your day, then at the end of the day you don’t feel like “Oh God, I have to go to the gym now.”
Is there anything you do in your own life to manage everyday stress?
A. 3 things that help me stay really healthy are: Sleep, Nutrition and Exercise.
Sleep: I need 8 hours of sleep. Not everyone needs that much, everyone is different. I know I need that amount, so I don’t book myself where I can’t get my 8 hours. It really helps.
Nutrition: Everyday I eat a big breakfast and healthy lunch. I am pretty much a vegan and I stay away from white flour, fried food, anything that makes me sluggish. I take vitamin D, fish oil and calcium every day. I always bring a pack lunch with me wherever I go. I rarely ever eat out. I have my lunch with me and know what it is. It prevents looking for food and winding up eating chips. I just make it in the morning and put it in my backpack. I eat a funny lunch; I eat the same thing everyday. I eat a big salad, dried fruit and nuts. I take arugula and mix it with asparagus, tomatoes, avocado and nuts and pour a little olive oil over it when I’m ready to eat. It travels well. The other thing I do a lot for my kids is take a whole grain wrap and put the salad mixed with vegetables in the wrap and cut it in two. It’s a great healthy lunch for them and easy to take on the go.
Exercise: I walk everywhere. I’m always answering emails or on conference calls working while I’m walking. That helps me a lot. Then I don’t have to do it at home.
Also, have a good relationship at home with your children and husband and friends. I am lucky to have great people at the Breast Center and at home. As a woman, it’s so much to carry; we have to do it all and we have to multi-task and we are very good at it, but balance is important.
How can people get involved and donate to the Dubin Breast Center?
A. People can get involved/donate by contacting Gretchen McGarry by telephone at (212) 731-7436 or email.
The Dubin Breast Center of The Tisch Cancer Institute provides a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to breast cancer screening, treatment and survivorship. Located at Mount Sinai Hospital’s main campus, the 15,000-square-foot facility houses a full range of services, including cancer screening and biopsies, cancer treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, wellness, patient and family support services, education, genetic counseling and testing, onco-fertility services, access to clinical trials, and survivorship support.