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August 19, 2017
We’re sharing staggering research on how alcohol and sugar can increase the risk of breast cancer for both women and men. When was the last time, if ever, that you’ve pondered your breast cancer risk while out to happy hour with friends? We’ve got all the details to help you avoid lifestyle habits that are so easy to fall into, but can potentially be harmful.
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BRENNA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. I am Brenna Thompson, licensed and registered dietician and today’s host of Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness, a company specializing in life-changing nutrition education and life-changing nutrition counseling.
Today we are reviewing the research about how alcohol and sugar can increase the risk of breast cancer for both women and men. Have you ever thought about your personal breast cancer risk, when you are having that second or third glass of wine with your friends? Maybe? Probably not. There is actual research that points out that drinking wine can increase your risk for breast cancer.
But before we jump into our topic today, what do you think about being a part of making our next online classes? Maybe you’ve been thinking about wanting to take some of the Nutritional Weight & Wellness classes before, well if you’re part of these taping of these online classes you would save 50%. So instead of spending $25 you’d be spending $12.50! We will be taping The Magic of Minerals, 5 Steps to Boost Your Metabolism, and Eating To Reduce Pain and Inflammation in the Nutritional Weight & Wellness Maple Grove office later this month. There is no online registration, you must call the office at 763-657-1730 to register. Also be aware that you will need to sign a video and photo release form before the class.
With me this morning is Ms. Kate Crosby, nutrition educator and nutrition counselor.
KATE: Good morning Brenna! Well this topic today, breast cancer and the alcohol and sugar connection, is a pretty personal one for me. As many of our listeners know about 25 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And my diet at the time, well it included lots of sugar and some wine, and I thought I knew a little bit about nutrition and what was good for me. Now, I don’t have a family history of breast cancer so I wasn’t really thinking much about cancer prevention with my diet. But today though, after learning that even moderate alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cancer, I’m careful about drinking wine and while I’ll have a glass occasionally, I’m just as comfortable drinking mineral water. But my hope today is to enlighten our listeners with the current research regarding breast cancer. I want them to know that alcohol and sugar consumption are two risk factors for breast cancer. I also hope to help our listeners figure out ways to minimize and avoid these lifestyle habits that seem so prevalent in our society today. Drinking wine and eating sugar can be potentially harmful to you.
BRENNA: It’s Saturday morning for us and we are doing a live show here on myTalk 107.1, but many of you are listening via our podcast as you drive to and from work or while you are walking your dog. If you find this podcast valuable, please rate this podcast and leave a review on iTunes, leave a review for us, because we value your comments and appreciate your time and effort.
KATE: If you went to bed last night after having a couple of glasses of wine…did you have troubling sleeping through the night? How are you feeling this morning? I know after I have a glass of wine, I have trouble sleeping! These days I usually choose to drink sparkling water or herbal iced tea. You were talking to me about the Northwest Blackberry Tea that we sell that’s really beautiful. But you also said, you can cold brew it.
BRENNA: You can! Clients have seem me do it. I just grab one of the little packets, throw it in a cup and you can put cold water over it and it steeps itself and it’s bright pink, so how can you not love it?
KATE: I also found that drinking wine is just a habit that doesn’t make me feel very good the next day. So, as a breast cancer survivor I’m always looking for simple changes that create better results and switching from wine to sparkling water is one!
BRENNA: I also heard you talk about how drinking wine can often result in hot flashes or night sweats.
KATE: Oh yes! That happens a lot. Often when we ask women in our Menopause Seminar, we’ll ask the women who are attending how many of them experience hot flashes after drinking wine and you should see the hands that go up. Maybe three quarters of the class raises their hands, you know it’s a problem! I haven’t noticed that personally myself, but I I certainly could have trouble sleeping. So, Brenna, what do you think is happening biochemically that causes these unfavorable side effects of sleep problems and hot flashes after we’re drinking wine?
BRENNA: Well, did you know that alcohol increases estrogen? Alcohol increases estrogen. This may not happen right away, it’s not like you drink the glass and two seconds later your estrogen levels are sky high. It’s later in the evening as those estrogen levels begin to fluctuate from the alcohol in your martini, or your wine cooler or your craft beer, you have a hot-flash from the fluctuations – because the estrogen is going to go way up and then it’s going to crash down. And it’s that crash that gives you the hot flash.
KATE: These are never fun, the hot flashes and night sweats are never fun, the really important part of this show is to review some of the research that links both alcohol and eating sugar to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Now that might be a new idea for a lot of people. Again, I really wasn’t concerned about getting breast cancer, it wasn’t in my family history and I thought I was eating healthy. I was a strict vegetarian! But looking back and now understanding the sugar connection to cancer, I knew I was eating way too much bread (which becomes sugar) and I did love my pasta (which becomes sugar). At that time, I didn’t recognize I was a vegetarian who lived on bread.
BRENNA: Kate, were you what I like to call a “Peanut Butter and Jelly Vegetarian?”
KATE: Yeah, forget the jelly, just the peanut butter and lots of bread. Oh sure, I ate some vegetables, but had wayyy too much sugar from the bread and all those processed carbs.
BRENNA: Let’s talk about what research really says. There was a research review from the year 2016, published by the Research Society on Alcoholism, which showed that 13 out of 15 studies found an increased risk of breast cancer when women drank more alcohol. In fact, they estimated that 144,000 breast cancer cases and 38,000 breast cancer deaths worldwide in 2012 were attributed to drinking alcohol. So that wasn’t the total number of breast cancer deaths, just those attributed to drinking alcohol.
KATE: Surprisingly, about 18% of those breast cancer cases and deaths were in women who were just light alcohol consumers. That would have been me, since drinking wine was a social factor with friends, not an everyday occurrence. If we look around today, women are drinking more alcohol than 100 years ago. You see more women in bars and taprooms and joining friends for wine in the afternoon.
BRENNA: It is interesting that the incidence of breast cancer has increased more than 20% since 2008. Could it be that drinking alcohol has now become the social norm for women? I really see this habit in many of my clients, of all ages, whether they are in their late 20’s or all the way up to their 60’s or 70’s. I’m seeing a lot of women who the first thing they do is they come home from work, and they pour a glass of wine, crack open a beer or their husband makes them a gin and tonic. That’s customary, it’s their cocktail hour, how they unwind.
KATE: It makes me think that there is something in our lifestyle today that is causing people to develop breast cancer more easily and more frequently – something like sugar and alcohol. Beginning in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, people ate about four pounds of sugar a year.
BRENNA: That’s a lot of sugar. We’re probably getting close to break here.
KATE: You are listening to Dishing up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Today Brenna and I are discussing the alcohol and sugar connection to breast cancer.
If you have questions for us, give the studio a call at 651-641-1071. We’ll be right back.
BRENNA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I’m Brenna Thompson, registered and licensed dietitian, I’m joined this morning by Kate Crosby, nutrition educator and nutrition counselor and we are discussing the sugar and alcohol connection to breast cancer.
If you have questions call us in studio at 651-641-1071.
KATE: Before we went to break we were talking about sugar consumption. Back in the 1700’s, early 1800’s people ate about four pounds of sugar a year. But today that’s a little different!
BRENNA: I just recently read that the average American consumes 130-150 pounds of sugar per year! That’s a lot more than four! Over 130-150 pounds of sugar a year. How many five pound bags of sugar is that? A lot! So many women believe they got cancer because of their genetics, “Blame it on my genetics.” but surprisingly most breast cancer cases are not attributed to a person’s genetic risk factors.
KATE: I am one of those who doesn’t have a family genetic factor, but I got breast cancer. So, let’s take a look at the genetic part, because genetics affects some breast cancer cases. There are two breast cancer genes that are linked to risk for breast cancer, the BRCA1 and BRCA2. Everyone, both women and men, have these genes, but some have inherited an abnormal gene or gene mutation that may increase their breast cancer risk. However these mutations account for only 5-10% of breast cancer cases in the U.S. So not a lot, 5-10% isn’t very much that are related to these mutated breast cancer genes.
Women or men with a family history of breast cancer may have a mutation of one or both of these genes that can increase the chance of developing breast cancer by 45-65% by age 70.
BRENNA: The good news is that researchers have found that 20-40% of women with an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene will not develop breast cancer. So just because you have the mutated gene, you don’t have to get it. You might?
KATE: So what’s the difference? Why do some women get it and others not? I believe our genes are not our destiny, but our genes interact with our environment and lifestyle. So this is where we have a little more power. One of the biggest changes to our lifestyle over the years has been our diets. This means the foods we eat impact how our genes work. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness we have a simple saying, “Food Matters!” I was recently at a big box store buying a life jacket for my grandson and was shocked at how unhealthy the other shoppers looked. The American Diet really looked like it had caught up with so many. It’s no wonder that cancer and heart disease are now at epidemic proportions.
BRENNA: I recently read a book titled The Fragile Wisdom by Granzyna Jasienska. It outlines an amazing amount of information and research on women’s health, our fertility, our hormones and yes, there was an entire chapter on the risk of developing breast cancer. Now before everyone hops on their Barnes and Noble and Amazon account, I will warn our listeners though that this is not an easy read and it’s really quite technical. However, the author states that it takes 20 years for damage to accumulate and affect our cells, leading to malignancy or cancer. 20 years. So it’s like what you do today will impact what’s going on 20 years from now. Kate, you said you noticed how poorly people looked when you were shopping – their skin looked unhealthy and they walked as though all of their joints ached – no doubt from at least 20 years of eating too much sugar, maybe too much bread, drinking too much soda or alcohol?
KATE: Absolutely. What that means to me is: the foods I eat every day can either positively or negatively impact my risk of cancer. Or just simply, how I feel.
BRENNA: That’s what really gets people to change. How do I feel on a daily basis? Because that’s what will keep them motivated.
KATE: I’m curious if the listeners would you be willing to stop and ask yourself every time you sit down to eat, “Is this food good for me or bad for me?” “Is what I’m eating putting me at risk?” Remember, the more positive choices you make the less damage will occur to your cells.
BRENNA: We want to keep your cells healthy, so besides limiting or avoiding alcohol completely, are you wondering what other positive nutrition choices you can make to prevent breast cancer?
KATE: Maybe you have heard that sugar feeds cancer. While this might be a little simplistic, it is true. In the field of nutrition, sometimes simple is best! Research tells us that sugar increases inflammation and cell damage which both lead to cancer. Stop and think about what high sugar foods you are eating that could be damaging your cells or setting you up for inflammation. Now I wasn’t a brownie or cookie eater, but I did love my bread, even though it was homemade and even though sometimes I ground the wheat to make it. I was one of those. I was totally unaware that a sandwich would turn into about 12 teaspoon of sugar! If you’re eating a Subway sandwich you’re probably eating about 25 teaspoons of sugar.
BRENNA: Easily and that doesn’t account for the bag of potato chips or the soda. Yes, we should be taking a break here pretty soon. You are listening to Dishing up Nutrition. Some of you listeners may be thinking, “How do you go about making changes to your eating habits?” Good question! You tried Googling to find the answer and ended up even more confused. I have a short answer for you – Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Program. It’s based on real information, delivered with caring and concern. Classes start the week of September 11. If you sign up by Aug 31st you will receive $80 off the September Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series.
KATE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Are you still wondering if our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Program is the one for you? Let me read a comment from a client who took Nutrition 4 Weight Loss. She said, “I finally lost my baby weight; it just took me 27 years to find the right plan!”
Also, today I am pleased to announce that we are now transcribing our radio shows. If you were walking around the lake or driving to the lake while listening to our radio show or podcast and would like to refer to some information you heard that may help you, a friend, or family member, you can now go to weightandwellness.com and find the specific information you want! It’s really easy.
Actually, we have a caller. We’ve got Pat, welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition.
CALLER: I’m just starting to learn about the possibility that by making your body more alkaline, brushing your teeth with baking soda, or drinking a little baking soda mixed with water helps balance the sugar that we do get in our diet by making the body more alkaline? But I’m trying to learn about how much is helpful? I’m just starting to learn about it.
KATE: Actually, Pat. I would rather see you make your body alkaline by eating a lot of vegetables. And they are much more protective, full of antioxidants. Trying to counter a behavior that you’ve already done, eating sugar, with another chemical, is sometimes not as productive as continuing to prevent cell damage and inflammation. We aim to eat seven to eight cups of light vegetables like green beans, broccoli, cucumbers, asparagus, all throughout the day. I know that’s a daunting task, but that’s what we aim for to help keep our bodies alkaline.
CALLER: I think that some of the benefits of drinking red wine are worth balancing out by using the baking soda, especially since most of the toothpastes have fluoride in them.
BRENNA: I think that’s where we might disagree. But, I think the baking soda idea works for some people but again, I would say I don’t see the benefits of red wine as being great enough to try and balance it with something else. But we thank you so much for your call this morning, Pat!
Let’s get back to what you had mentioned Kate, the sandwich you’d have. You would make your own bread! Make a peanut butter sandwich. Now, what about in the morning. If you’re listening and you’re stopping by Starbucks or Caribou, getting yourself a mocha latte, which has about 67 grams of carbs – that means it’s about 17 teaspoons of sugar. If you had made this at home would you have filled up a glass and then added 17 teaspoons of sugar, mixed it up and drank it? Because that’s what it is. It’s dessert with a straw.
Or are you pouring yourself a bowl of cereal. Even heart healthy cereals actually turn into a lot of sugar. Imagine this, two cups of most cereals turn into about 20 teaspoons of sugar. So the All American Breakfast of Champions is really a risky behavior! Now instead, I love my turkey burger and sautéed veggies with avocado for breakfast. That’s pretty typical for me.
KATE: Some of you may be asking, “What’s the big deal with sugar?” “Why is it so bad and how does it feed cancer cells?”
BRENNA: To help us answer that question, we’re going to lean on Gary Taubes’ most recent book, The Case Against Sugar.
We’ve actually had Gary Taubes here on Dishing Up Nutrition several times in the past. You can find those shows on our website. Go to weightandwellness.com and search Gary Taubes to hear him discuss his research of the food industry, food policy and how our diet choices have been influenced and changed through the years.
KATE: What part of our diet has changed the most do you think as we have become more civilized?
BRENNA: The answer is processed carbs, which our long time listeners know turn into a lot of sugar in our bodies, then the sugar triggers an insulin release by our pancreas.
KATE: So, explain why the pancreas releases insulin into our bloodstream after we eat sugar or processed carbs?
BRENNA: Well, whether it’s a processed carb or even a real carb that’s its job. That’s just what that pancreas does. On the most basic level, we need insulin to transport sugar or glucose into our cells; otherwise, we would just have a whole lot of sugar in our bloodstream and absolutely no energy in our cells. That’s not good, that’s called diabetes.
KATE: So estrogen kind of acts like the escort for that glucose? The problem occurs when we eat excessive amounts of sugar like when we drink a mocha latte or eat a plateful of pasta or several pieces of pizza or down a sleeve of cookies, then we have too much sugar in our bloodstream, so our pancreas goes into overdrive and actually pumps out excess insulin. This can cause our cell receptors to get overwhelmed by the insulin, and become resistant to it. That’s the insulin resistance.
BRENNA: When our cells are insulin resistant. The excess sugar that should go into our cells for energy gets turned into fat, we store it and save it for a rainy day. But that process, the process of having high blood sugars and high insulin, creates a lot of inflammation.
KATE: Inflammation can lead to damaged breast cells. So it’s that inflammation that sets us up her for damaging our cells. Gary Taubes writes that the higher a person’s level of insulin and insulin resistance, the greater that person’s chance to develop cancer. This is because cancer cells must have insulin and sugar to grow.
BRENNA: I was just thinking, if we’re storing more fat because of this excess sugar … excess fat makes a very toxic form of estrogen. And that toxic form of estrogen is linked to breast cancer. Just one more little connection there. But here’s where things get interesting, tying back to the sugar and insulin – normal, healthy breast tissue does not have insulin receptors. Let me say that again because it was a shock to me when I read this. Normal healthy breast tissue does not have insulin receptors, none, not a one.
KATE: I thought all cells had insulin receptors. If not, then how does sugar from too many carbs feed breast cancer? Without insulin receptors, sugar shouldn’t be able to get into the breast cells.
BRENNA: That’s what one would think. The problem arises when breast cells are damaged (inflammation) due to harmful lifestyle factors like eating too many processed carbs. The inflamed and damaged breast tissues develops insulin receptors, they’re adapting, lots and lots of insulin receptors are created so that that tissue can begin to use sugar for energy.
KATE: Once cancer cells develop insulin receptors they can consume lots and lots of sugar and then they grow rapidly. That’s what we mean when we say sugar feeds cancer.
BRENNA: Right. And that’s how tumors are found. They give people, I don’t know if it’s an injection or they give people a solution of sugar and that tumor actually soaks up that sugar solution and then lights up on a scan. And that’s how a tumor is found.
KATE: Fascinating. I know a lot of times when working with clients who are going through treatment for breast cancer or recovering from treatment, I always recommend avoiding processed carbs and any added sugar. I help them understand that processed carbs turn into an overabundance of glucose or sugar in our bodies and I encourage them to eat carbs the way we do, which is eating these vegetable carbs like we were talking to Pat about, more broccoli and cauliflower and green beans and zucchini.
BRENNA: And even if that cauliflower happens to be purple, it still counts.
KATE: But to avoid the processed carbs here.
BRENNA: I know Gary Taubes would agree with you as he wisely wrote, “If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that sugar causes cancer.” We do need to go to our last break here today.
Thanks for listening to Dishing up Nutrition.While doing research for today’s show on breast cancer I ran across some interesting information on a supplement called Meta I3C and how it can help people decrease estrogen levels and possibly reduce your risk of breast cancer. When we come back from break Kate and I will chat a little bit more about this amazing compound and where you can find it.
KATE: Welcome back to Dishing up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I’m Kate Crosby and before break Brenna mentioned a supplement called Meta I3C, which stands for Indole-3-Carbinol. This is a great supplement, it’s a compound is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts and it has the amazing ability to help the body get rid of toxic estrogen. Research published in 2010 in the Journal Breast Cancer showed that women who took a supplement containing 200mg of Meta I3C showed a significant increase in their excretion of estrogen in their urine. What does this mean for these women?
BRENNA: It means their livers were breaking down toxic estrogen and turning it into a form that their body could get rid of instead of holding onto it.
KATE: This toxic estrogen is known as estradiol and it is made by our fat cells. You referred to this before.
BRENNA: In the long run, this may help these women prevent breast cancer and other estrogen related cancers such as uterine and ovarian. Are you wondering, “Where can I get some Meta I3C?”
Just two capsules per day which will provide 300mg of the active Indole-3-Carbinol. The amount shown to help detox estrogen.
BRENNA: Of course, as nutritionists we’d also recommend making sure you are eating a couple cups of cruciferous vegetables every day. Maybe you steam cauliflower, sauté cabbage, roast Brussels sprouts, make the Nutritional Weight & Wellness crunchy broccoli salad. So I believe that Liz is still on the line, she waited for us. Good morning, Liz!
CALLER: Hi, it’s more of a comment than a question. You were talking about the sugar and cancer and my husband has been battling cancer for two years. When he was diagnosed, the first oncologist we visited specifically told him that diet had nothing to do with cancer and we knew better. He’s been on a very restrictive diet and I guess the thing that was sad though was when we toured the chemotherapy center the infusion place, there were bowls of candy and granola bars. Things that would not be good for a cancer patient. It’s kind of scary for people out there, especially when you first get diagnosed. I just really appreciate you ladies talking about the correlation and maybe somewhere down the road you can have a class or something. People are always looking for things like that. That was all.
KATE: Well, thank you and thanks for your call, that was really interesting, I know there is such conflict in information sometimes.
CALLER: It was just so sad. Here we are, trying to do quite a bit of natural things and he’s actually doing quite well. We’ve never done chemo and he’s doing quite well.
KATE: Congratulations, that’s wonderful.
BRENNA: We wish you both the best, thank you! Before break, we were talking about the fact that sugar in its own way, feeds cancer. So it makes sense to me, as a nutritionist that if you are a woman or a man with a personal or family history of breast cancer, it would be very wise for you to stop eating processed carbs and added sugar, probably very much like Liz and her husband have done, to reduce your risk of cancer or to prevent a relapse. What would this look like?
KATE: Yes, let’s give some ideas to our listeners. Maybe you could start your day with a bowl of plain full-fat yogurt or cottage cheese for breakfast topped with berries and chopped nuts? That would be just as fast as pouring a bowl of cereal, but there’s no added sugar and the protein will keep you full and satisfied. Give you lots of energy. So there’s a breakfast … how about a lunch?
BRENNA: I believe to prevent cancer we really have to plan ahead. Two women in my family have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone mastectomies this was years ago, long before I was born. For me, eating the Weight and Wellness way means cancer prevention. In the past, I ate a lot of processed carbs. I would have flavored fat free yogurt and pretzels for lunch, and it wasn’t very filling so then I’d go get a Twix bar. That’s a lot of sugar. I believed in the low fat myth, but now that I have looked at the science, I know I need meat, vegetables, and good fats at least 3 times a day to support my immune system. To eat healthily is not always fast. It takes a little work and a lot of planning. I can’t just run out the door without my lunch or my snacks or my day won’t go well.
KATE: So what do you bring for lunch?
BRENNA: Well today it is leftover meatballs and asparagus and peas with olive oil. It’s usually leftovers, or in the summer when it was nuts with lettuce …
KATE: It still looks like it’s going nuts! Brenna brought me in some delicious looking purple carrots. They are humongous.
BRENNA: Yes. So this summer it was a lot of salads with some kind of meat and dressing.
KATE: Yup. That’s kind of my lunch, all the time.
BRENNA: Now, Kate, I know you love to go to your cabin. For a lot of people, going to the cabin or camping in the summer means a lot of processed carbs. What do you eat?
KATE: At our lake home, we grill a lot. We grill steak, burgers, nitrate-free brats, but this summer we got into grilling salmon. I have the best wild caught salmon recipe and it only takes about six minutes to make this thing. All you do, I buy a big fillet of salmon, wild caught, and then in a separate dish I’ll chop up some garlic and add some Dijon mustard, some soy sauce and olive oil and mix that all up. Then drizzle that over the salmon fillets and then grill it. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes, depends on how thick it is.
We also do lots of vegetables, we’ll grill the broccoli, cauliflower and peppers and then I add just a few small sliced organic red potatoes, which I happen to love on the grill. To finish off the meal, we typically have fresh berries and whipped cream. It’s just a standard. Real whipped cream, one of my grandkids loves to make. It’s a delicious meal and I know it supports my family, it supports my own immune system because I’m always trying to plan and cook to be proactive for the health of my entire family.
BRENNA: Kate, as you know, my husband and I bought a boat this year and when you’re on the boat there are certain things that you can’t always eat very well. It’s a little rocky, you might have fish stuff on your fingers sometimes. So I had a client who kept telling me about these Epic Pork Rinds, because they are one of her favorite snacks. It’s the Epic brand, we carry the bars in our offices, so it’s the same brand. Their pork rinds, but if somebody has an on the boat potato chip history, this is a great substitute. I almost brought you some to try, but I ate them. But as you may know, there are many levels to nutrition support and knowledge to either prevent cancer or reduce the risk of re-occurrence, relapse. Today we have just touched on two major culprits, sugar and alcohol, but when we work individually with clients, we look at sleep, (you have to get enough sleep to keep immune system functioning and fight off those cancer cells) toxic estrogens, antioxidants, the list just goes on and on. We are always looking at ways to support each client’s immune system and to help prevent cell damage.
KATE: Thank you for listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you found this show interesting, please share it with a friend or family member. Each week our message is about sharing how eating real food supports your health. It’s a simple, yet powerful message. Eating real food is life-changing.
Next week, be sure to tune in next week when Dar and Shelby discuss ways to support your immune system to avoid shingles. That will be great.
BRENNA: Thank you everyone and have a very happy and healthy weekend. Kate, I’ll see you in the office!