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Breast Cancer Survivors: Beliefs Versus Behaviors

Posted Mar 05 2010 7:22am
In addition to discussing new medical discoveries in breast cancer, one of the main goals of this blog is to provide information on steps we can all take to reduce the risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.  There are many diet and lifestyle changes that each of us can make to reduce our own personal risk of breast cancer and I make a point of discussing new research results in these areas as often as possible in order to increase our awareness of things we can do in our fight against breast cancer.

An interesting paper that is free to download and read was published yesterday that examined the relationship between breast cancer survivors' beliefs about diet and exercise and their actual behaviors.  This study was conducted by analyzing responses to a questionnaire sent to breast cancer survivors by the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation .  The breast cancer survivors were asked to respond with their level of agreement (strongly agree, agree, disagree, etc.) to a variety of statements and answer questions about their diet and exercise habits.  Some of the results are outlined below
  • 67% of breast cancer survivors agreed that regular physical activity will reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
  • 65% of breast cancer survivors agreed that maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life will reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
  • Only 50% of breast cancer survivors agree that eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables will reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
In regards to how well the beliefs of these breast cancer survivors translated into actual behaviors, the results were a little disappointing
  • Only 48% of survivors who strongly agreed with the benefits of fruits and vegetables for reducing breast cancer recurrence actually eat 5 servings per day.
  • Of breast cancer survivors who strongly agreed that regular exercise reduces the risk breast cancer recurrence, only 51% actually exercised at the recommended level (30 minutes or more per day for 5 or more days per week).
  • Of survivors who strongly agreed that maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life will reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, only 47% exercised at the recommended level and only 44% consumed 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Based on these results, there remains a lot of work to do in order to enhance the awareness of breast cancer survivors about the importance of diet and lifestyle in their fight against breast cancer.  These results suggest that nearly one-third of breast cancer survivors do not believe that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.  Additionally, these study results show that about half or less of breast cancer survivors actually follow diet and exercise recommendations even though they believe these recommendations will reduce their risk of breast cancer recurrence.  Based on the results of this study, it appears that there are at least two challenges that need to be met.  A better job needs to be done to spread the news about the importance of diet and lifestyle changes for reducing breast cancer risk and it is necessary to find ways to motivate individuals to actually adopt these changes.

Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer to learn more about some of the simple diet and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your breast cancer risk ( www.fightBCnow.com ).
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