Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Breast Cancer Survival

Breast cancer accounts for 28% of all cancer diagnoses in US women. Gene defects inherited from a parent account for 5%-10% of all breast cancers*. Up to 80% of breast cancers are due to our diet**. Leading causes of breast cancer are overweight, estrogen, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption. Here are some things we can do to reduce the risks.

Body fat will increase estrogen (a growth hormone) activity. Of 26 studies conducted since 1990, 17 showed a direct relationship between higher weight and increased cancer risk and a lower survival rate. What is on our dinner plate affects hormone activity in both women and men. Strive for a diet low in fat to reduce body weight. In addition, a high fiber diet will help carry excess estrogen out of the body. Eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains (which all happen to be low in fat and high in fiber) and reducing consumption of meat and dairy products (high fat, no fiber) will reduce chronic inflammation which can fuel cancer cells. Whole foods with beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes) and vitamin C (broccoli, oranges, green vegetables) are particularly beneficial.

Exercising will send signals to reduce inflation, making cancers harder to grow by increasing the body’s defense system. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found women exercising the equivalent of walking 3-5 hours a week at an average pace had an improved breast cancer survival rates. Alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of breast cancer by disrupting the body’s protective mechanisms.

Losing weight, eating a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, avoiding animal products and alcohol, and exercising have proven to reduce the risk and recurrence of breast cancer.
* ACS Facts & Figures 2010
** American Cancer Society-Cancer Facts & Figures 1997

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by Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacist

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