6 ways to keep breast cancer from coming back

If you’re one of the millions of American women who’s beaten breast cancer during your lifetime, you probably feel extremely grateful and fortunate to be alive…

But like many cancer survivors, you may also feel fearful and anxious knowing that your cancer could come back at any time. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer relapse, ease your anxiety and live a long and healthy life…

Lifestyle choices lessen cancer risk

A review of 67 scientific studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that certain lifestyle choices can go a long way toward lessening your risk of breast cancer relapse. Of course, six particular lifestyle factors stand out as the best ways to keep breast cancer at bay…

  1. Preventing weight gain. According to researchers, weight gain has an especially strong correlation to breast cancer risk. In fact, they determined that gaining more than 10 percent of your body weight after a breast cancer diagnosis not only increases your chance of dying from breast cancer, it increases your chance of premature death altogether. You can boost weight loss efforts by boosting your vitamin D.  Vitamin D may also be the answer to beating a number of cancers, including breast cancer.
  2. Exercising. Since preventing weight gain is crucial to preventing a breast cancer diagnosis and relapse, so is exercising. In this particular review, researchers recommended you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day for at least five days a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise total per week. They also suggested that you participate in at least two to three training sessions per week that strengthen your large muscle groups. Exercise is key to preventing your fat cells from growing cancer cells.
  3. Eating healthy. Once again, it’s not outlandish to assume that if you need to maintain a healthy weight you also need to watch what you eat. No particular diet has been tied to a reduced risk of breast cancer, so you should just follow common sense habits for healthy eating—like steering clear of sugar and processed foods, and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. You should also try to eat vegetables and herbs that contain the compound luteolin, since a recent study suggests it may kill breast cancer cells.
  4. Taking your vitamins. Cancer survivors take their vitamins. Although the research on which vitamins help prevent a breast cancer relapse is still inconclusive, researchers did identify a few vitamins that could help you on your path to permanent recovery. Vitamin C, for example, has been shown to have a positive effect on breast cancer risk. And vitamin D has been shown in certain studies to double your chance of surviving breast cancer. If you’ve undergone chemotherapy or hormonal therapy and lost bone density as a result, vitamin D can also help you reclaim your bone health.
  5. Stop smoking. This one is a no brainer. Even though smoking hasn’t been directly tied to an increased risk of breast cancer relapse, researchers feel pretty confident smoking the old cancer sticks isn’t going to help your cause if you’re trying to keep cancer away.
  6. Limiting alcohol consumption. Although you don’t necessarily need to stop drinking altogether, researchers determined that limiting your alcohol intake to one or less drinks per day will probably reduce your chances of having to fight breast cancer a second time. That’s no surprise considering alcohol consumption has been linked to at least seven different types of cancer, including breast cancer.

Perhaps the best benefit of embracing these lifestyle changes to lessen your risk of breast cancer relapse is that you’ll no longer feel helpless, afraid and anxious… like you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Instead, you’ll feel empowered, because you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy, alive and cancer-free. If you’re looking for a few more empowering ways to keep breast cancer far away from your body, check out Margaret Cantwell’s 10 simple ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

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Sources:
  1. “Exercise most important lifestyle change to help reduce risk of breast cancer recurrence.” ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  2. Hamer HBSc, E. Warner MD MSc. “Lifestyle modifications for patients with breast cancer to improve prognosis and optimize overall health.” Canadian Medical Association Journal, February 2017.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.