Exercise Key factor in Preventing Breast Cancer Relapse
Breast cancer survivors are constantly plagued by the thought of its comeback. The fear is not unfounded, but recent research shows that making some key changes in one’s lifestyle can prevent relapses in many cases. There have been studies in the past citing the considerable benefits of exercise in cancer survivors and also for those with greater predisposition to the disease.
Recent research by the Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada suggests that regular exercise is a critical factor in preventing the reoccurence of breast cancer. Breast cancer has a tendency to metastasize (spread through the body). Regular exercise has been shown to suppress inflammation which is reported as a potential cause of cancer metastasis. This study confirms that exercise has the ability to prevent metastasis and reduce risk of death in cases of cancer relapse by 40%.
Apart from exercise, other changes in one’s lifestyle such as following a healthy diet, preventing weight gain, avoiding smoking and alcohol may also contribute to reduced recurrence rates of cancer. Although the effect of diet is still debatable, daily exercise and weight watch are key lifestyle changes that can prevent the cancer from making a comeback.
5 Key lifestyle recommendations:
- Fitness: Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise spread throughout the week. Strength training has also proved beneficial when done once weekly in addition to aerobic exercise. A 30 minute stroll is a good way to begin exercising for those recovering from post chemo/radiotherapy weakness. Put on those shoes girl!
- Weight watch: There is a tendency to put on weight post cancer treatment which must be addressed. An increase in weight of greater than 10 percent may increase the risk of reocurrence. Although not proven conclusively, women who are obese have been seen to have a poor prognosis at diagnosis and post treatment. Watch the pounds
- Diet: Nothing specific has been said regarding diet. However, a high fibre intake is advisable as it prevents weight gain. One component of dietary advice that never changes is the advice to eat more vegetables and, to a lesser extent, fruit.
- Smoking: Breast cancer patients and survivors who smoke are 72% more likely to die than those who don’t.
- Alcohol: Weak evidence points out that having limited amount of alcohol can lower the risk of new breast cancer. The link between alcohol moderation and cancer reocurrence is still matter of discussion.
In summary, the evidence in favour of regular exercise and weight control is overwhelming. Also, regular exercise has many other proven benefits like elevating mood, developing self-confidence and enhancing immunity. These go a long way in fighting the disease even if it comes back.
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