Proper nutrition, exercise and weight management can help reduce your risk of recurrence.
Healthy habits shouldn’t stop after breast cancer remission. Studies show that diet, exercise and weight management can play an important role in preventing breast cancer recurrence.
A recent study showed that exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are the two most important lifestyle changes that breast cancer survivors can make to lower their chances of recurrence. Women who are overweight or obese have the lowest chance of survival, while women who engage in 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week—or 75 minutes of intense exercise each week—reduced their risk of recurrence by about 40 percent.
Although research found that diet did not have a direct impact on breast cancer recurrence rates, healthy eating can help to stave off weight gain or help you return to your ideal weight after treatment. To reduce your chances of recurrence, you should continue to follow the diet for breast cancer patients. The best diet for breast cancer survivors is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
To determine whether you are at a healthy weight, you should calculate your body mass index (BMI) using an online calculator. Your BMI will indicate whether you are a normal weight, overweight, obese or extremely obese according to the following chart:
Due to reduced activity levels, medications and early menopause, it is very common for women to gain weight during breast cancer treatment. In addition to diet and exercise, there are many tips and tricks that can help you stick to a diet plan and successfully lose weight after treatment, including:
Whether you decide to join a support group, participate in a weight loss program, consult a registered dietitian, or use a fitness tracking device or app, returning to your ideal weight after treatment is an important weapon in your fight against breast cancer.
Although sugar intake has not been directly linked to breast cancer, a high-sugar diet can lead to weight gain and therefore increase your chances of recurrence. Breast cancer survivors should focus on eating a diet that is rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, and avoid processed foods, sweets and sugary beverages.
Eating an organic diet has not been shown to decrease your chances of breast cancer recurrence. However, an organic diet will reduce your exposure to pesticides and hormones found in fruits, vegetables and meats. The most important thing that breast cancer survivors can do to prevent recurrence is to maintain a healthy weight by exercising and eating a diet full or fresh fruits and vegetables.
Several studies have shown a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Because the link between alcohol and breast cancer is not clear, you should limit your alcohol intake to one serving per day. A serving of alcohol is equivalent to 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
Because studies suggest that the type of fat consumed can contribute to the development of breast cancer, you should avoid foods that contain trans-fatty acids, including commercially prepared baked goods, crackers and margarine. Experts recommend limiting your intake of beef, lamb and organ meats to three 3-ounce servings per week.
To help you maintain a healthy weight and thereby reduce your chances of a recurrence, you should also avoid sugary foods and beverages, such as sodas, sweets and processed foods. It is also a good idea to limit foods that are low in fiber, such as white bread, white rice, pasta and dairy products, and minimize your intake of cured, pickled and smoked foods, such as pickles, ham and lunchmeat.
Read your food labels carefully. Avoid foods containing high quantities of sugars, trans fats and sodium.
Exercise is one of the most important things that you can do to reduce your chances of breast cancer recurrence. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercise will also improve your mood, self-image and immune system. Best of all, 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week or 75 minutes of intense exercise each week can reduce your risk of recurrence by as much as 40 percent.
Because many people reduce their level of physical activity during breast cancer treatment, you should check with your doctor to make sure that exercise is safe for you. If you are new to exercise, be sure to start slowly with light, low-impact exercise, such as walking or swimming. If you are already active, you should slowly increase the intensity of your exercise and pay close attention to how you are feeling.
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