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What are the early symptoms of MS for women? And more health-related questions inspired by this week's headlines

Christina Applegate, Olivia Munn and Christie Brinkley shared personal health details with the public — causing Canadians to turn to the internet for answers.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Christina Applegate, Olivia Munn and Christie Brinkley spoke about their respective health issues this week. (Image via Getty Images)
Christina Applegate, Olivia Munn and Christie Brinkley spoke about their respective health issues this week. (Image via Getty Images)

Canadians love asking the big questions — especially when it comes to health. This week, some beloved celebrities shared updates on their health that had people across the country heading online for answers.

On Wednesday, actress Christina Applegate spoke to "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts about living with multiple sclerosis (MS). The 52-year-old told Roberts that she "lives in hell" since being diagnosed with MS in 2021.

The interview coincided with March being MS Awareness Month, and prompted a 400 per cent spike in online searches for early MS symptoms for women.


What are some early symptoms of MS in women?

Christina Applegate spoke to
Christina Applegate spoke to "Good Morning America" about living with multiple sclerosis. (Image via Getty Images)

Applegate told Roberts that "six or seven years" before she was formally diagnosed with MS, her legs "would buckle."

"I really just kind of put it off as being tired. Or 'I'm dehydrated' or 'It's the weather,'" Applegate said. "And then nothing would happen for like, months. And I didn't pay attention."

MS is a disease that causes the immune system to attack the body's central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve), damaging the fatty substance that protects and surrounds nerve fibres called myelin. Damaged or destroyed nerve fibres cause messages from the central nervous system to be disrupted or stopped completely.

According to the National MS Society, women are three times more likely to have MS than men. Although the cause of MS is unknown, studies suggest female hormones, vitamin D levels, inflammation and obesity could play a factor.

Early symptoms of MS can include, fatigue, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet, muscle spasms or muscle stiffness, balance issues and dizziness, feeling like you need to urinate more frequently or having trouble emptying your bladder, problems with eye movement or painful eye movement, bowel problems, tremors, trouble speaking, trouble recalling words and other cognitive problems.

Although MS symptoms for men and women are the same, women may experience symptoms to be heightened or more difficult to navigate during periods when their hormones are fluctuating, such as menopause, menstruation or pregnancy.


What is Luminal B breast cancer?

This week, Olivia Munn announced that she was diagnosed with an "aggressive" form of breast cancer in April 2023 called Luminal B. The 43-year-old actress said she underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after cancer was detected in both of her breasts.

Munn's announcement coincided with a 4,800 per cent increase in Canadian web searches to learn more about the "fast growing" cancer.

Luminal B is a molecular subtype of breast cancer that uses estrogen to grow and may contain copies of HER2 gene, a protein that promotes growth. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, only 10 per cent of breast cancer cases are Luminal B, also called HR+/HER2 or Group 2.

Compared to Luminal A breast cancers, Luminal B tumours tend to be larger, lymph node positive (meaning cancer is to the axillary lymph node near the armpit) and can have a poorer prognosis. Symptoms of Luminal B breast cancer can include nipples, breast or nipple pain, swelling under the arm or near the collarbone, dimpling, red, dry or flaking skin on the breast.

Visit your doctor if you have concerns about your breast health or to discuss assessing your breast cancer risk and be sure to check your province's recommendations for referred mammograms.


What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer?

Christie Brinkley took to social media to encourage fans to wear sunscreen after revealing to followers that she was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer. The 70-year-old model said she felt a "dot" on her forehead whenever she applied foundation which turned out to be basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Brinkley's post led to a 950 per cent increase in signs and symptoms of skin cancer.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, BCC accounts for approximately 70 to 80 per cent of all skin cancers. Unlike melanoma, BCC begins in the lower part of the epidermis (basal layer) and can appear in many different forms. While melanoma typically begins as dark or asymmetrical moles, BCC and other forms of skin cancer can present in different ways: sores that bleed or won't heal, raised or scaly red patches, a growth that itches, pale white or yellow flat areas that look like scars, or a pink growth with raised edges.

When detected early, non-melanoma skin cancers have a high-survival rate and are considered treatable. However, when left untreated, BCC can spread to nearby areas of the body, such as cartilage and skin.

Skin cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer. Melanoma often begins as an abnormal mole that may change shape or colour. The acronym ABCDE can help you know the signs and symptoms of skin cancer:

  • A for asy to the Canadian Cancer Society, BCC accounts for approximately 70 to 80 per cent of all skin cancers. Unlike melanoma, BCC begins in the lower part of the epidermis (basal layer) and can appear in many different forms. While melanoma typically begins as dark or asymmetrical moles, BCC and other forms of skin cancer can present in different ways: sores that bleed or wont heal, raised or scaly red patches, a growth that itches, pale white or yellow flat areas that look like scars, or a pink growth with raised edges.

  • B for border. An uneven, jagged or blurry border of the mole could be cause for concern.

  • C for colour. If a mole has different colours through out (tan, brown or black) or features other colours like blue, grey, red, pink or white, ask your doctor for an exam or biopsy.

  • D for diameter. If your mole is larger than 1/4 inch in size, it should be examined by a specialist.

  • E for evolving. If you notice the shape, size or colour of your mole change, or it suddenly becomes itchy or burns, visit your healthcare provider for an exam.

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