A glass of wine a day for health is a myth, says Kateřina Vacková

Almost eight years ago, Loono was the first to launch a #breastcancer prevention program. Over time, cardiovascular disease prevention, reproductive health and mental health programs were added. Do you feel that some of these programs are becoming more important than others, for example in the context of a coronavirus pandemic?
I think everyone is still relevant, not least because a lot of people forgot to go for preventive health checks due to the pandemic and also did less sport with the cancellation of sporting events – it’s is especially true for children – and so their hearts have suffered. Therefore, we at Loon do not rest on any of these subjects and say that a non-pandemic pandemic, we must always take care of our health in the same way. But what the pandemic has certainly “supported” is the emergence or worsening of mental illness. Many people turn to us for anxiety advice, seeking an expert for themselves or their family members. Before the pandemic, one in five Czech adults suffered from a mental illness, today it is a third.

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You are currently working in the covid department. Has this experience changed your perspective on the importance of prevention?
I am an internist and internal diseases are among the most preventable. I think my clinical work has further confirmed for me the need to develop preventive medicine and educate the public from an early age.

What are the biggest health myths you encountered during Loon’s tenure?
One of the most common is that cancer, heart attacks, and other serious illnesses only affect older people. However, three hundred young women develop breast cancer every year, and testicular cancer most often develops between the ages of 15 and 35. We often dispel the myths that mammograms cause cancer, that electronic cigarettes are not harmful to your health. My favorites are: when it’s cloudy outside, I don’t need to apply sunscreen and a glass of wine a day is healthy. But many myths are also associated with sexually transmitted diseases, where many people believe they are transmitted through the toilet seat. It’s more of a smile. Many people then think that a condom will protect them from all sexually transmitted diseases, which is not the case, for example, with HPV. This is why it is so important to have a gynecological check-up once a year and to be vaccinated against HPV, both girls and boys. Vaccination makes sense even after the start of sex life, we also explain this often, because many people wave their hands at it and say that it does not matter anymore. As for the coronavirus itself, we are constantly dispelling myths about vaccinations, antibodies, etc. I respect the fact that everyone can decide to vaccinate or not. But it should do so based on verified data and facts.

Could you clearly summarize the most important prevention points in our 20s, 30s and 40s for our readers? Where should you go and what should you do just for yourself?
On Loon’s website, readers will find the Prevention Guide, where you just need to enter your age and gender, and it will recommend what you need to do for your health. However, for all women, regardless of age, they must undergo a breast self-examination once a month and have their breasts examined by ultrasound every two years – for women over 45, it is advisable to undergo a breast examination mammogram as often. It is also necessary to undergo a self-examination of birthmarks once a month and to have them examined by a dermatologist once a year. Other preventive medical examinations are also important. Women should not underestimate the general practitioner, which is usually done every two years, they should go to the dentist once or twice a year and have a gynecological examination once a year, which includes screening for cancer of the cervix. And let’s not forget to go for revaccinations regularly.

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Do you have any other health prevention recommendations?
Readers probably don’t need to repeat healthy eating, moderate alcohol consumption, not smoking, and regular exercise – primary prevention is none other than that. I will add at least 7 hours of sleep per day as a baseline. It is certainly essential to also think about your mental health, to relax, to learn to say no and to do activities that you enjoy.

What are you doing for yourself in terms of health and fitness?
I don’t smoke, I drink very little alcohol and only natural wine. I am gradually becoming a vegetarian, so I am very careful about the variety of diets. I like to make salads for dinner the other way around. Exercise has been an integral part of my life since I was a kid, I go to studio classes The windmills, I skate and cross-country ski in the winter. During the winter months I take vitamin D supplements and regularly take blood samples to see if I am missing the most important minerals, the vitamins.

What do you relax in your free time? What do you like? How do you relax? They say you like the sauna.
Yes, the sauna and hardening in all its forms, with all the scents, the rituals and the refreshing pools, it’s mine! I take it as a sports supplement at least once a week. In addition, I enjoy practicing yoga and playing golf. And in good Loono, I also think about mental health, and even if I don’t have a meditation period at the moment, I try to have my moments for me, when, for example, taking care of the plants interior caresses my soul. I always spend a month a year surfing, two weeks in spring and two weeks in autumn, it’s the best relaxation. I spend a lot of time with my friends, we are a group of seven girls from the gym, with whom I still go on weekends for wellness, hiking in the mountains or going here and there for dinner.

You yourself suffered from cancer years ago. The range of emotions and thoughts that arise in a person after such a discovery is probably unimaginable for healthy people, so they often do not know how to react correctly. What advice would you give to someone who has someone this sick in their family or in their neighborhood? What to do and what to avoid?
I think the key is not to stick your head in the sand and just ask the patient: how do you feel about what you need right now? And when he doesn’t say anything, reassure him that you’re there for him whenever things change. Do not ask every day, rather over time yes. I am not a psychologist, I just share my experiences and those of patients who told me how it happened in their family. It was always about that – mainly about communicating.

You can find more healthy lifestyle articles in Diet magazine. The current issue can be purchased in the iKiosek.cz online newsroom. You order today, you have it in your mailbox tomorrow. And delivery is free!

Natálie Kotková on the cover of the February issue of Dieta magazine. Author: Adriana Fialova

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