My Cancer Advisor > Breast Cancer > Health and Nutrition for Breast Cancer > Eat Better, Move More, and Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

Eat Better, Move More, and Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

Previously, I have reported on studies that regular exercise may play an important role in prevention of depression among breast cancer survivors. (For more details, read β€œLifestyle Makes a Difference in Combating Depression After Breast Cancer“). There is also a growing body of scientific evidence links the risk of developing a first breast cancer or recurrent breast cancer with such lifestyle factors as weight, physical activity, and alcohol use. As this video above from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston shows, as little as 30 minutes per day of regular exercise, such as walking, can help you reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Overweight and obese postmenopausal women have been shown to be up to twice as likely to develop breast cancer as women of normal weight. Higher rates of breast cancer have also been associated with an inactive lifestyle and consumption of more than seven drinks of alcohol per week for women.

Furthermore, obese women who lead a sedentary life have an increased risk of breast cancer recurrence. One study showed that women who were overweight at the time of their initial diagnosis were 50% more likely to get a second breast cancer compared with women who were not overweight. Women who consumed more than seven drinks a week after their first breast cancer diagnosis were found to have a 70% increased risk of developing cancer in the opposite breast when compared with nondrinkers.

There are, however, some health benefits to moderate drinking β€” one drink or less per day for women and two drinks or less for men, especially of red wine β€” such as lowering the risk of heart disease. In addition, if you are receiving chemotherapy, your nutritional needs change and it’s not a good idea to go on a low-calorie diet because you need to add calories and protein to your diet to help you fight infections and boost your energy.

For more information about good nutrition and regular exercise from our companion website, go to this link

1. Nagaiah G, Hazard HW, Abraham J: Role of obesity and exercise in breast cancer survivors. Oncology 2010;24:342-346.
2. McCarthy AM, Visvanathan K: Breast cancer prognosis: weighing the evidence on weight and physical activity. Oncology 2010;24:342-346.
3. Ligibel JA: Could modification of lifestyle factors prevent second primary breast cancers? Journal of Clinical Oncology 2009;27(32):5301-5302.
4. Li CI, Daling JR, Porter PL, et al: Relationship between potentially modifiable lifestyle factors and risk of second primary contralateral breast cancer among women diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive invasive breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2009;27:5312-5318.


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