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For a breast cancer survivor, the emotional repercussions are twofold: on the one hand, there’s relief. On the other hand, there’s the fear it can reappear at any time and without warning. Once you have it, you’re always on guard.
That’s why breast cancer survivors (really, all cancer survivors) look to take back as much control as they can and want reliable recommendations for how they can minimize their risk of a recurrence.
So it was a relief when the American Cancer Society and the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) came out with their updated “Ten Recommendations for Cancer Prevention” in 2018.
But even better, research has now confirmed the positive impact of these recommendations before, during and after treatment…
7 recommendations that reduce recurrence by 37 percent
A prospective cohort study of 1,340 high-risk breast cancer patients was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
A prospective cohort study is one that focuses on a group of people (a cohort) over a period of time, collecting data on a particular factor of interest — in this case, adherence to seven of the ten cancer prevention recommendations.
The study focused on the following seven recommendations:
- healthy weight
- physical activity
- a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- not smoking
- limited alcohol consumption
- limited consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
- limited consumption of red and processed meat
Using both questionnaires and statistical analysis, the study authors determined that strong adherence to these guidelines was associated with a 37 percent reduction in recurrence and a 58 percent reduction in all-cause mortality.
“These are impressive numbers, especially considering that this was a high-risk breast cancer population,” says lead author Dr. Christine Ambrosone.
This study builds on previous research showing that a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. For example, a 2020 systematic review of studies found that a healthy diet, normal body weight, physical activity, limiting alcohol, and not smoking were associated with more than a 58 percent reduction in the risk of many types of cancer including breast, colon, and lung.
Diet and breast cancer: A major factor
You’ll notice that five of these seven recommendations have to do with diet (I’m including normal body weight since that will come more easily if you follow the other four).
And the American Cancer Society and the American Institute of Cancer Research offered recommendations about what to eat and what to avoid. But if you need specifics, a couple of diets have been studied for their potential effects on decreasing cancer risk.
In 2017, researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that following a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of ER-negative breast cancer by up to 40 percent. ER-negative breast cancer is a dangerous form of breast cancer that’s particularly hard to treat, so anything that can prevent women from getting this cancer in the first place is a huge deal.
A Mediterranean diet is high in nutrients such as omega-3s, B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, folic acid, selenium and iron. Vitamin D is one of the most studied supplements for cancer prevention and treatment. Foods that can help include:
- canned tuna
- fortified cereal
- fortified orange juice
Milk and soy milk, good vitamin D sources, have had mixed reviews when it comes to cancer.
Christie Siebel, breast cancer survivor and senior clinical dietician at MD Anderson Cancer Center feels soy is a great alternative to animal protein and that there’s no reason to avoid eating it.
As far as milk goes, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine warns naturally occurring hormones and compounds in dairy products may play a role in increasing not only the risk of breast cancer but also ovarian and prostate cancers, according to a new narrative review published in the International Journal for Disease Reversal and Prevention.
Supplementing is always an option. Since vitamin D deficiency has been reported to be as high as 72 percent among cancer patients, talk to your doctor about adding vitamin D3 to your daily routine if you’re a cancer survivor.
Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!
Lifestyle Recommendations Make a Difference for Breast Cancer Survivors Before, During, and After Treatment — Integrative Practitioner