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Lifestyle Habits Impact Breast Cancer Recurrence & Survival

Posted Jan 28 2010 12:00am
Numerous reasearch efforts have been put forth over the years to determine the various diet and lifestyle habits that impact the risk of getting breast cancer.  This research has led to recommendations of healthy lifestyle habits that can help reduce breast cancer risk.  One of the most comprehensive set of recommendations is the Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.  However, the information about lifestyle factors that effect breast cancer survival and recurrence is not as clear.

A new breast cancer study examined the scientific literature related to lifestyle changes and breast cancer outcomes.  For this study, the breast cancer researchers analyzed papers that looked at the effects of physical activity, dietary patterns (nutrients, good groups, etc.), and body fat on the health of breast cancer survivors.  Some of the results of this study are listed below:
  • Physical activity was protective and reduced the risk dying from breast cancer by about 30%.
  • Body fat was associated with about a 30% increase in breast cancer mortality.
  • Increased dietary fat intake was associated with an increased rate of breast cancer deaths.
  • Dietary fiber consumption by breast cancer survivors was protective, reducing the risk of breast cancer death.
  • A prudent dietary pattern (high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, and chicken) was associated with a protective effect, while a Western dietary pattern appeared to slightly increase breast cancer mortality risk.
  • While only a little information was apparently available for vitamins and minerals and the results were mixed, calcium and vitamin C intake appeared to be protective.
The information in this paper appears to be mixed in many cases, making conclusions and recommendations difficult at this time.  However, this breast cancer report shows that many of the lifestyle habits that help us reduce breast cancer risk might also help breast cancer survivors reduce their risk of getting breast cancer again or dying from breast cancer.  This appears to be particularly true in regards to exercise and body weight.  Maintaining a healthy body weight and getting adequate amounts of regular exercise seem to be two of the most important factors for reducing the risk of breast cancer mortality.  This is a great step in the right direction of increasing our breast cancer awareness in regards to things we can do personally to improve breast cancer outcomes.

Read Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer ( to discover lifestyle changes you can make to reduce breast cancer risk.
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