Looking For a Fun Way to Celebrate Lunar New Year? Check Out The Americana at Brand


My Chinese American sister-in-law said that she had never seen a lunar new year parade or celebration, so when I found out about the festivities going on at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, California, I knew I had to take her and the rest of the family. On an unusually warm February Sunday, the outdoor shopping mecca had been turned into a festival of sorts, with red tents featuring yummy treats from 626 Night Market, traditional arts on display and even a craft area for the little ones. A giant Chinese lantern hovered over the main thoroughfare and crowds of people anxiously lined the central fountain green, eager to get a front row view of the cultural performances on tap.




Costumed stilt walkers, unicyclists and a super long gold dragon kicked off the festivities — it was like an Asian version of a typical American parade! On stage, Chinese ribbon dancers wowed the crowd, and rarely seen Mongolian bowl dancing elicited oohs and ahhs. The most adorable little Korean mask dancers — they must have been 6 or 7 years old — were a special treat, before a spectacular Chinese dragon dance with not one but three dragons (and the cutest mini dragon helmed by a little boy).



Chinese ribbon dancers. Photo courtesy of The Americana at Brand.


Mongolian bowl dancers.


Korean fan dancers.


A young Korean mask dancer.

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Between performances, kids lined up for some face painting, decorated wooden traditional instruments, made lotus lanterns and watched calligraphy artists as they created traditional Asian paintings just for them. Meanwhile, 626 Night Market served up their more popular offerings, including Mama Musubi, Ramen Burger and those ubiquitous potato swirl skewers. (Possibly the best part of the day, if you ask my 2-year-old nephew.)




Photo courtesy of The Americana at Brand.


No worries if you missed the celebration. If you’re in the L.A. area, you can get into the celebratory mood at The Americana at Brand and The Grove in Los Angeles, where iconic Chinese décor conceptualized by Stephen Stefanou of Venue Arts will be on display from now through March 1. Look for an oversized costumed God of Prosperity statue, brilliant red Chinese New Year lanterns and bright horticulture at The Americana at Brand, while hand-formed fan sculptures, brilliant red Chinese New Year lanterns, giant Moso bamboo poles, Qilin Foo Dogs and a bright horticulture garden can be seen at The Grove.

There will also be nightly fountain shows at 7 and 8 p.m., choreographed to “Give Me a Kiss” by Wan Fang. And on Lunar New Year, February 19, The Americana at Brand will turn its fountain red (for good luck, of course).

Additionally, guests of The Americana at Brand will receive traditional Chinese red envelopes, which may contain cash prizes or gift cards, through March 1, and look for special lunar new year shopping specials from stores like Nordstrom, Lucy Zahran & Co. and Sprinkles Cupcakes.


Feature photo courtesy of The Americana at Brand; other photos by Anna M. Park.



Must-Read of the Week: ‘The Lotus and the Storm’ by Lan Cao

From the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Monkey Bridge comes The Lotus and the Storm, another look at the Vietnam War and its aftermath, this time from the alternating perspectives of Mai, a law librarian in the D.C. area, and her father Minh, a former commander in the South Vietnamese army.

The book opens with a carefree, tranquil picture of 5-year-old Mai’s world — her elegant mother, affectionate father and adored older sister — all embraced within the walls of the family’s lush French colonial style villa in Cholon, Saigon’s sister city, in 1963. To Mai, war seems far away, despite her father’s “satiny eggplant color” and “boots, muddied and nicked” after months away. It is when we are jarred into the more recent present of Minh that we realize those halcyon days will indeed have been shattered by unspeakable loss and tragedy.

With many parallels to author Lan Cao’s own personal story, as well as that of her father — relatives on opposite sides of a civil war, the death of a sibling, political intrigue and near-death escapes, the long-term devastating effects of war — The Lotus and the Storm is an important piece of the Vietnam War story.


Details Hardcover, $27.95, penguin.com.


Miyazaki’s ‘Princess Mononoke’ Now Available As a Collectable Book


Hayao Miyazaki fans, rejoice! A special edition of the ground-breaking 1997 animated feature film Princess Mononoke is now in collectible coffee table book form, except that this imprint features the artwork of Miyazaki’s original version of the iconic tale, created 17 years earlier than the film.

With beautiful watercolor renderings, the book tells the fable of a samurai lost in a forest after a long and exhausting war. He meets a giant wildcat — a mononoke — who spares his life in exchange for the samurai’s promise of one of his daughters’ hand in marriage. But the third daughter, given to the mononoke, is no ordinary female. Through her courage and determination, she changes the course of her father’s fate, as well as the heart of the mononoke.

Details: Hardcover, $34.99, viz.com.

Photo courtesy of http://www.thegamescouts.com/
This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here



Bespoke Beauty: How the Next Generation of Skin Care is Made Specific For You


Like haute couture is to ready-to-wear, the next generation of skin care isn’t off-the-rack or one-size-fits-all; it’s especially made just for you.


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According to technology-based skin care brand Ioma, to categorize skin into certain finite types (dry, combination, etc.) is old-fashioned — the skin is a live organ, unique to each individual and constantly changing. To address skin’s uniqueness, Ioma uses its proprietary MEMS technology, developed by Ioma’s founder and currently used in planes and the Mars Curiosity rover, in its 4D diagnostic skin analysis. Available at Ioma counters at Saks Fifth Avenue, the IomaSphere takes “pictures” of your face, which analyzes down to the deepest layers of the epidermis, revealing hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, hydration and even bacterial content. Based on your Skincode, eight different serums (like Syn-Ake and biomimetic peptides) are mixed and matched, down to the drop, into an active base formulated with a highly effective peptide and vitamin E, to create a day moisturizer specific to your needs. The diagnostic is so specific, it can create more than 40,000 different formulations. Indeed, I was surprised to see how dehydrated my skin was, fooled by my super oily T-zone.



If you don’t have time for a full-on skin analysis, Skin Inc, a new skin care line finally available in the U.S., may be your solution. Created by Singaporean native Sabrina Tan, Skin Inc uses high-potency ingredients developed in Japan and is already a hit in Europe and Asia, with flagship stores in 16 cities. Just take their Skin Identity test online, which measures everything from stress, diet to even geography to decode your skin’s unique needs. They’ll send you three bottles of ingredients — their nine serums range from pigmentation-fighting chlorella to hydrating hyaluronic acid to oil-balancing vitamin C — each containing moisture-rich, caviar-like capsules created by a patented seaweed encapsulation process to keep active ingredients fresh, to be released only upon application to the skin. It may sound super high-tech, but all you need to do is mix the three ingredients into your Daily Dose bottle and you’re good to go.



Don’t have time for a personal “fitting?” Then this may be your next best option. According to Clinique, this serum is formulated to target and decode the distress signals of the damage specific to your skin — whether visible or not — and precisely deliver the appropriate ingredients to correct it. Any ingredients not needed for your particular skin remains “on call.” Among its many powerful actives are red algae to soothe inflammation, vitamin C and salicylic acid to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, collagen-boosting peptides to fight wrinkles, and encapsulated enzymes to repair UV damage.


This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here. 




5 Beauty Trends From Asia You Have to Know (And Where To Get Them Now)


Cleanse, tone, moisturize — is that it? If that’s the extent of your skin care routine, then you’re seriously missing out. Take a cue from the worldwide skin care experts — Korean women (and even men now!) — and incorporate these complexion wonders into your regimen (no passport needed!).



1. Air Cushion

Venerable Korean brand AmorePacific introduced the first Air Cushion (above), called Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+, last year, but the Air Cushion didn’t really take off until Korean actress Jun Ji Hyun used Iope’s Air Cushion XP on the mega-hit K-drama My Love From the Stars earlier this year. Now people across the globe can’t get enough of the liquid tinted sunscreen in a compact, perfect for reapplying throughout the day without messing up your makeup. It also helps that the Air Cushion imparts that perfect mul gwang (“water sheen complexion” — that chok chok wet look Korean stars favor) look with one application.

How genius is the technology behind the Air Cushion? Read more about it here.

And though Iope Air Cushion XP is only currently available at Korean cosmetic boutiques in Koreatown or through smaller sites on Amazon, you can get AmorePacific (they are Iope’s parent company, after all) Cushion Compact at Sephora ($60). For a less expensive alternative, Korean line Laneige, which just debuted in the States this spring, has their own BB Cushion ($34), available at Target.




2. Hydrating Toner

Another top seller from Korean brand Iope is its Bio Essence, a part of that step in any respectable Asian skincare regimen that includes what is called “lotion,” “skin lotion” or, to some old-school Koreans, simply “skin” — a water-like solution for the face used after cleansing.

It’s different from the toner that we here in the States may have grown up with — that harsh, alcohol-based liquid we swept over skin with a cotton ball to wipe off any residual makeup that our cleanser may have missed. Rather, “lotion” is a post-cleansing hydrator, usually applied by sprinkling into hands and pressing the palms over the face to ensure proper penetration. It’s a step that “provides hydration to the skin that might be stripped during the cleansing process,” says Diane Nakauchi, skincare expert and CEO of Japanese skincare brand Koh Gen Do. It also increases the effectiveness of all your serums and moisturizers that follow.

Today, Asian skincare companies are bringing these post-cleansing hydrators — whether called “lotion,” “water” or even “toner” — to American consumers, and American skincare companies are quickly jumping on board. Some of our favorites include the botanical-based gel-liquid of Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Lotion and SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Find more here.


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3. Hydrogel Masks

Sheet masks, typically made of paper or cloth, have been around in Korea for ages. Women use them daily as a part of their skin care regimen. And though sheet masks are fairly new in the U.S., there’s now an even better option for those in the know: the hydrogel mask. It’s also a sheet mask in that it’s not a cream or gel, but these new incarnations are made of a gel-like material. Dr. Jessica Wu, a renown dermatologist to the stars, raved about Dr. Jart Water-Full Hydrogel Mask recently. “Dr. Jart Water-Full Hydrogel Mask is made of a gel material similar to what I use on surgical wounds or burns. It forms a barrier so the moisture sinks in rather than evaporating.The hydrogel is made of polymers that are very absorbent and hold water against your skin. The mask traps water more effectively than a sheet mask because water evaporates more slowly from a hydrogel mask. It’s also more flexible and conforms to your face better than many cloth or paper sheet masks.”




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4. Night Pack

We all know that nighttime is the best time for skin care repair. “Sleep is a time when the metabolic rate increases along with the production of skin cells, while the breakdown of proteins needed for cell growth and repair decreases,” says Diane Nakauchi of Koh Gen Do. “You can’t replace nighttime sleep with daytime hours as the energy required for tissue repair cannot be fully utilized due to other body organs’ energy needs in life support during the day.”

A night pack, or overnight mask as it’s usually called in the U.S., is the last thing you put on your face before sleeping. It has a higher concentration of “sealing” ingredients (which often are not suitable to wear under foundation as it may affect the wear of the foundation), says Nakauchi, which helps to seal in moisture, preventing moisture loss during the night as your nighttime skin care ingredients work overtime to repair skin.


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Koh Gen Do’s Night Moisture Mask has a gel formulation, which sinks in fast. Despite its light feel, its skin-identical ceramide formulation gently wraps the skin to prevent moisture evaporation during the night. Encapsulated vitamins, A, C & E are released when applied to penetrate deeply into the skin cuticles. Three types of antioxidant-rich red and brown algae not only help to detoxify, condition, soften and aid collagen production, but the red algae is known for its anti-microbial effect that helps to fight blemishes.





5. Finishers

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Korean premium skincare brand, Sulwhasoo, is a frontrunner in Korean skincare. And their latest innovation is the Luminature Essential Finisher, brand new in the U.S. There’s a saying in Korean skincare — that your skin “eats” your makeup well. Basically, when your skin is at its best, foundation goes on smoothly and looks flawless. When your skin is less than perfect, foundation looks clumpy, settles into pores and just looks obvious. The Finisher, which contains the equivalent of five ginseng roots and 110 cups of green tea, is made to seal in the benefits of all your skincare treatments and provide a smooth base for your makeup. Get it here or at Neiman Marcus.



The Real Sleeping Beauty Secret From Asia: Sleep Masks


Didn’t double cleanse last night? Cell phone chin acne getting you down? Irritating redness from [pick one: indoor heating, brisk winds, too much alcohol] running amok? You may not be able to address all your skin care woes with one product, but these get pretty close: sleep masks. Call them sleep masks, night packs or overnight masks — in our overrun, hyper-busy, never-offline world, these beauty wonders can cover a multitude of sins.

We all know that nighttime is the best time for skin care repair. “Sleep is a time when the metabolic rate increases along with the production of skin cells, while the breakdown of proteins needed for cell growth and repair decreases,” says Diane Nakauchi of Japan-based skin care brand Koh Gen Do. “You can’t replace nighttime sleep with daytime hours as the energy required for tissue repair cannot be fully utilized due to other body organs’ energy needs in life support during the day.”

A sleep mask is the last thing you put on your face before sleeping. It has a higher concentration of “sealing” ingredients (which often are not suitable to wear under foundation as it may affect the wear of the foundation), says Nakauchi, which helps to seal in moisture, preventing moisture loss during the night as your nighttime skin care ingredients work overtime to repair skin.

Different sleep masks address different issues, so find one that works for you. Some of our favorites:


Koh Gen Do Night Moisture Mask

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This sleep mask is a light gel, which sinks into skin fast. Despite its light feel, the mask uses a skin-identical ceramide formulation that gently wraps the skin to prevent moisture evaporation during the night. Encapsulated vitamins, A, C & E are released when applied to penetrate deeply into the skin cuticles. Three types of antioxidant-rich red and brown algae not only help to detoxify, condition, soften and aid collagen production, but the red algae is known for its anti-microbial effect that helps to fight blemishes.



Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask




This sleep mask from Korean luxury skin care line Sulwhasoo offers soothing creaminess that sinks in well. Hyaluronic acid, the key to skin hydration, and walnut extract promotes long-term moisturization overnight, while white mulberry extract minimizes redness and irritation.




Kate Somerville Age Arrest Hydrating Firming Mask was developed on the principles of Asian sleep masks, a final step in your PM regimen, sealing in other products, while adding additional firming and hydrating benefits. While the texture is thicker than most night creams, it melts into skin, great for dry skin needing a boost during the cold winter months.


Kate Somerville Retasphere Micro Peel


kate somerville


For a more active nighttime mask, this sleep mask is a leave-on micro peel which gently infuses skin with pure retinol through its RetAsphere Smart Release™ Carrier System. A combination of 10 percent glycolic acid and lactose also helps to resurface skin. Use this powerhouse every other night.


La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Skin Mask 



With its signature caviar extract — rich with vitamins, nucleic acid, phospholipids and proteins to boost skin’s long-term firmness, as well as omega-3s which boost the antioxidant level of defense in the skin and improve the skin’s barrier function — this sleep mask firms skin, while its natural exfoliation enzyme technology smooths and softens. The melt-in formula reduces skin’s trans-epidermal water loss at night and helps skin eliminate cells damaged during the day. This one’s so potent, you use it one to three times a week.


Bioelements Oil Control Sleepwear



Have oily skin? There’s even a sleep mask for you. Ironically, oily skin is sometimes the product of lack of hydration. This mask, made with a “dream team” formula of calcium, retinol, peptides and vitamin E, is made for combination to oily skin and works while you sleep to control oil as it smoothes the appearance of lines and wrinkles.


KTOWN Night Market: More Than Korean BBQ


At last weekend’s KTOWN Night Market Halloween Food Fest, Seoul Sausage, season 3 winners of Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, curated a special line-up of 13 food trucks known for the quality of their food. And while the street market shut down four blocks in the heart of Los Angeles’ Koreatown, the fare ranged from halal chicken roasted on a vertical rotisserie at Chicken & Rice, oozing grilled cheese at The Grilled Cheese Truck, to Filipino fusion at White Rabbit, and shaved snow by Fluff Ice.


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White Rabbit’s tacos with chicken adobo, pork sisig and pork tocino.


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Mac & grilled cheese.



Of course, there was also no shortage of local restaurant representation (the original Ramen Burger, Taiwanese baos and the perpetually packed Ham Ji Park, renown for its Korean pork ribs, to name a few), as well as plenty of fruit-infused drinks served in reusable Mason jars and reinvented ice cream sandwiches and churros. Street market favorite Wolf & Flock, known for their 100% grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised Australian bone in lamb chops with a yuzu glaze, offered a somewhat pricey but succulent piece of lamb. (Who wants to overeat at one stall anyway? It’s all about getting a taste of everything, right?)


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But in our humble opinion, the standout was The Pho Burger, which was only making its second appearance at a street market. And thank goodness we stopped by. Their juicy, fragrant, crunchy, gooey burger, embellished with all the mint, sprouts, chilies, onions and cilantro you expect in a steaming bowl of pho, but topped with crispy uncooked pho noodles … it was the best thing we ate all day.


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The Pho Burger.


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Top 5 Things You Have to Do at Hello Kitty Con


In celebration of Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, Japanese company Sanrio is throwing the world’s first ever Hello Kitty Con this weekend, starting today. Yes, there is a plethora of over-the-top cuteness to gawk and squeal at, but before you get overwhelmed, follow my guide below to ensure you get to the best stuff before anyone else.

Oh, and if you’re not one of the lucky ones who managed to your hands on a $20 ticket — they sold out weeks ago — you can still check out the Japanese American National Museum’s special exhibit “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” going on now through April 2015. And you can get your hands on some exclusive anniversary limited edition cuteness at Target and Sephora.

But if you are going to the convention this weekend, here are my picks for the top five things you have to do at Hello Kitty Con.

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1. Sanrio Signing Booth

As soon as you enter the indoor convention area, turn right and head toward the Super Supermarket. Once you’re in the Supermarket, make another right and head over to the artist signing area. Not only can you get Sanrio artists to personally draw and sign a Sanrio character just for you, but if you’re lucky, you’ll meet Yuko Yamaguchi, Sanrio Tokyo’s Hello Kitty Head Designer, who will be there to personally draw, sign and distribute supercute pictures to her fans. The wait can get as long as two hours, so put in your request fast and then pick up later after perusing the rest of the Supermarket. You can pick up stuff from Sephora, jewelry designer Chan Luu, Beats by Dre, or cute Asian American-owned lifestyle brand Poketo.

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Yuko Yamaguchi.



2. Dream Carnival inside Target Presents: The Adventures of Hello Kitty and Bullseye

This special section inside the Target room (located on the opposite end of the convention from Super Supermarket) lets you play games, win points and redeem for cute prizes ranging from Hello Kitty T-shirts to the Hello Kitty con exclusive Target Bullseye Dog dressed in a removable pink Hello Kitty track suit. The games are easy enough for most kids and you can play them as much as you want, racking up points. Just activate an RIFD card in minutes and play on!

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3. Target’s Floating Photobooth Area

While you’re in the Target room (#HelloKittyCon@Target), head over to the Floating Photobooth. There are three scenarios to choose from — Underwater Exploration, High Flying Fun and Outerspace Odyssey. Just enter your email and pose! You get a cute little gif as a nice souvenir. (Just try to be more creative than we were. That camera shoots super fast!)




4. Nail Art by Masako Kojima

Who is Masako Kojima, you may ask? Only Sanrio Tokyo’s vey own resident nail designer! And she’ll be here to personally do up your nails with some seriously irresistible Hello Kitty custom nail art.

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Can’t get nail art done by Masako Kojima? Cheat a little with these NCLA X Hello Kitty nail wraps.



5. Meet Hello Kitty herself!

She’ll be performing performing daily in a sneak peek of Sanrio’s new live entertainment show Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival, but she’ll also be popping up in the Friendship Village so be sure to get your photo snapped with her highness of supercute! (Can’t find her? No worries! Kawaii cuteness abounds and everyone is more than happy to pose with you.)

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And an honorable mention: the 3D printer Makerbot will be printing Hello Kitty figurines, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to take one home!


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Makerbot printing a Hello Kitty figurine.



Check out some more of the supercuteness at the convention below:


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Get your first taste of the upcoming Hello Kitty Cafe at the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck — macarons, doughnuts, even bow-shaped water bottles!


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The Main Stage at Friendship Village.


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In fashion more avant garde than supercute, real-life models mingle among mannequins.



Can Modern Acupuncture Really Turn Back The Clock?


Having grown up with a physician father, antibiotics, not acupuncture, was more our family’s treatment of choice. But as people increasingly look to the East for health and lifestyle choices — from yoga to Buddhism to Ayurveda — I’ll admit to a growing curiosity about acupuncture, something friends and family swear by to alleviate all manner of problems.

So I paid a visit to Dr. John J. Kim, a licensed acupuncturist and former head of the California Acupuncture Board. His clinic, Re Nu Mi Wellness Center in Redondo Beach, Calif., is a spa-like office redolent of fragrant herbs and relaxing music. In addition to acupuncture, the Center offers cupping, Qigong and meditation classes, and herbal medicine specially created on-site.

A consultation with Kim involves analyses both scientific and holistic. A special weight analysis machine, brought over specially from Korea, reveals not just weight and BMI but fat percentages in various parts of the body, muscle mass, and intra- and extracellular water composition. A tongue and pulse analysis reveals the state of your Qi, the body’s fundamental energy, and which of the five key organs are in need of help. From there, Kim takes it one step further —he asks about your relationships. Because for Kim, he’s not just there to alleviate physical pain or to turn back the clock a dozen years, as he does in his cutting-edge Advanced Regeneration Therapy Facial Sculpting — he’s there to give you a “mind lift,” and thereby a “life lift.” Like the Center’s mission statement says, “The goal of our treatments is to enhance each person’s physical and emotional well-being in order to improve and maintain harmony with our inner and outer world.”

As much a therapist as an Eastern medicine practitioner, Kim believes that emotional healing is part and parcel to any physical treatment, whether you’re looking for weight loss, help with insomnia, a facelift or stress management. Yes, his holistic facelift works by stimulating lymphatic drainage and manipulating trapezoidal muscles to lift and create a more pleasing facial symmetry. (He’s even working on incorporating a platelet-rich plasma gel into the procedure to boost results.) But for Kim, the key is: “Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Am I beautiful?’ How can you present yourself as beautiful to others if you don’t even know it?” Indeed, we could all use a bit more of that type of healing.



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For more information on Re Nu Mi Wellness Center, go to renumi.com.
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here



The Truth About Mammograms Finally Uncovered

Today’s #TBT is in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 


When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced that women should not be getting mammograms until they reach 50, it ignited controversy within the medical community. For years, doctors have insisted on mammograms starting at 40, and the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen Foundation still recommend an annual mammogram starting at the age of 40, citing early detection key to saving lives. Just do a quick search and you’ll find stories of all sorts of young women in their 40s whose lives were saved from early detection. Nonetheless, most major health organizations have concluded that the modest survival benefits of mammography in women ages 40 to 49 outweigh the risks of false positives and further unnecessary procedures. So what’s a woman to do? Dr. Maggie DiNome, chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., who specializes in breast cancer surgery, answers our questions.


Q. My OB/gyn insists I get annual mammograms starting at 40, even though I have no family history. But the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammograms starting at 50, and then every two years. What do I do?

Dr. Maggie DiNome: You would need to weigh the data to know what is right for you. The U.S. Task Force came out with their consensus statement based on their recommendations of what is most efficient for screening, meaning what has the biggest bang for the buck for the population as a whole. According to their review of the existing data, starting mammograms at age 40 only results in one life out of 1,000 being saved. That might not seem like much, but if you were that one patient, it means the world.

So what is the trade-off for starting mammograms at age 40? Well, the argument is that it leads to more false positives, which leads to more unnecessary biopsies and imaging. It may also be finding stages of “cancer” (i.e. DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ) that truly do not need treatment, although currently we treat everyone diagnosed with DCIS because we don’t yet know who can safely avoid treatment. As a breast surgeon, I see more than one might expect of breast cancers diagnosed by routine mammograms in women in their 40s, so it’s hard for me to say “stop.” I wouldn’t necessarily argue that biennial mammograms is a bad thing though, and maybe a compromise would be biennial mammograms beginning at age 40. In Europe, it is this way.

My recommendation to you would be to start mammograms at age 40, and plan to get them every year or every other year.



Q. Even if a woman holds off on regular mammograms until she’s 50, should she get a baseline mammogram in her 40s?

Dr. DiNome: That’s a difficult question to answer because, if you are starting your screening at age 50, that means you agree with the U.S. Task Force data that it is not efficient to begin screening at age 40. So a baseline at that age would not make sense. There is no doubt that starting annual screening at age 40 reduces death from breast cancer, but the argument is that it is too low of a number to be considered significant. The probability of dying from breast cancer after age 40 is 3 percent. If you screen biennially between ages 50-74, you can reduce that to 2.5 percent. If you start screening annually at age 40, then you reduce it to 2.4 percent, which hardly seems significant when you talk about numbers. It’s just difficult when you equate it with a life because in my mind any life is worth saving.




Q. I got a mammogram and was told I have dense breasts, which I believe most Asian women have. Should we insist on an ultrasound?
Dr. DiNome: Almost every premenopausal female will have dense breasts because it’s a reflection of the hormonal stimulation on our breast tissue. After menopause, there is significantly less (unless they’re on hormone replacement therapy) and the breast tissue becomes more replaced by fat. The downsides of mammograms are that they are notoriously less sensitive in a woman with dense breasts, and that’s why we don’t recommend beginning screening in a woman under age 40. The ability of the mammogram to show anything helpful in that scenario is so low it’s not worth doing. For women over 40 who have dense breasts, a mammogram should still be performed because it is the only imaging modality that will pick up calcifications reliably, and this can be one of the earliest signs of breast cancer. A screening ultrasound does have some value as an adjunctive screening test to a mammogram, but not in place of. I do think it is worthwhile for women with dense breasts to advocate for a screening ultrasound, but it is not yet a test that is covered by insurance for routine screening.



Q. The risk of breast cancer for Asian American women seems to be rising (compared to women in Asia) — is there anything in particular we should be doing to protect ourselves?

Dr. DiNome: I think this has a lot to do with adopting a western diet. Population studies have demonstrated that if you followed immigrants from Asia to America, that over two generations the risk of cancer increases significantly. Right now, the risk of breast cancer in Asia is five times less than the risk in America. My recommendation would be to adopt a more whole food, plant-based diet and to minimize the amount of animal protein, which we eat way too much of in the U.S. My husband and I went vegan a few years ago for the health effects. I have a strong family history of cancer (not the least of which is my father who died from colon cancer at age 39) and I now have 3 1⁄2-year-old twin girls. Because my husband and I had kids later in life, we feel it’s our responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that we will be around for them as long as possible. So we did a lot of research and we both independently concluded (my husband before me, mind you) that a vegan diet has the most evidence-based data for a cancer protective diet.


Dr. Maggie DiNome is the current chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. She is a board certified general surgeon, who focuses her clinical expertise on cancer surgery and advanced laparoscopic techniques. As a fellow of the Society for Surgical Oncology and a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, Dr. DiNome is particularly dedicated to caring for patients with breast and colorectal cancer. 


This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here