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Love Me Tender...............

Dear Annie:I have been with my boyfriend for 15 years. He has been a great dad to my three sons. He cooks, cleans, changes diapers and takes care of my sons when they are sick. He has no children of his own. I am 20 years his senior. Our sex life was great for about 11 or so years. But it's gone downhill. He always wants to be intimate when I'm not in the mood, but I go along with it to make him happy, and I oblige all his requests. But when I am in the mood and he's not, he doesn't care. The tenderness is gone from our intimacy, as well as the excitement. I'd appreciate your advice here. We don't even kiss anymore because his breath smells like cigarettes and marijuana. -- Looking for Love

Dear Looking for Love:The last line of your letter is perhaps the most important one: If he's using marijuana excessively, it could be clouding your ability to share meaningful intimacy on many levels. So, express your concerns on that front -- with an attitude of caring, not blaming -- and see whether he would consider cutting back or taking a break.

And beyond that, be assertive about what you like and what you don't. In always indulging his wants, you're neglecting your own needs. If you find that there is a communication breakdown, I strongly recommend enlisting the help of a couples' counselor. It sounds as though on the whole this has been a loving relationship for you both, and it's worth putting in some work. The value of your relationship is worth more than the cost of the repairs.

Dear Annie:October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please use your column to encourage people to be vigilant against breast cancer even if it doesn't run in their families. Although people who have had a relative with breast cancer are at greater risk for getting it themselves, only around 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary, according to the American Cancer Society. There are many other risk factors besides genes. The following are a few suggestions from Stanford Medicine and the American Cancer Society to increase your protection from breast cancer.

--Maintain a healthy weight. According to Stanford Medicine, being overweight is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and "even a 10 percent weight gain can strongly increase the chances of breast cancer as well as a cancer recurrence."

--Eat a mostly plant-based diet rich in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Contrary to what you may have heard, consuming soy does not appear to increase breast cancer risk. Stanford Medicine says that it is an "excellent source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, calcium and isoflavones and that it can possibly help bind estrogen and may decrease the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate."

--Avoid alcohol, which is a strong risk factor for many cancers, including breast cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, research has shown that, compared with women who don't drink at all, women who have two to three alcoholic drinks a day have about a 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer.

--Exercise regularly.

These are just a few tips, and women should, of course, talk to their health care professionals about any concerns or questions they may have. I hope this information helps someone out there. -- Spread the Word

Dear Spread the Word:Thank you for sharing these tips to help readers reduce their risk of developing this disease. I encourage all women -- and men -- to talk to their doctors about the most prudent course for breast cancer screening.

Ask me aything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to mailto: dearannie@creators.com

Beloit Call

P.O. Box 309, Concordia, Ks. 66901

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