According to a report published by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI), there are significant lifestyle patterns breast cancer patients must follow in order to prevent post-treatment complications and improve chances of survival.
Although more research will be needed to establish a definitive link between cancer survival and diet, researchers are confident the initial indications are promising for patients both before and after diagnosis.
In the Continuous Update Project (CUP) report, it was found that obese and overweight women have fewer odds of survival, while maintaining a BMI of 25 increases the survival rate of breast cancer as well as seven other types of cancer.
Getting plenty of exercise and eating a healthy low-fat diet not only helps to keep weight under control, but also strengthens the body for the fight against cancer.
Researcher, Anne McTiernan explained that keeping oestrogen levels low is particularly important, as breast cancers tend to be sensitive to high levels. Foods rich in fibre and soy can help lower oestrogen in the body, and therefore should be eaten regularly to help improve survival odds and prevent a recurrence of breast cancer.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is also recommended, but it is advised that patients choose frozen options to avoid energy-draining preparation tasks such as chopping and deseeding.
In terms of physical activity, traditionally breast cancer patients have been told to avoid strenuous exercise following surgery to prevent the build-up of fluid in the arms and shoulders.
The CUP report however, suggests exercise is crucial for breast cancer recovery and if the right precautions are taken can greatly improve the chances of survival.
For more tips on how to look after yourself following major cancer surgery, take a look at the guide below:
- Keep portion sizes small.
- Limit your alcohol and saturated fat intake.
- Choose wholegrain varieties of pasta, bread and rice.
- Aim for moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, water aerobics and swimming to stay active.
- Always check with your GP and a nutritionist before starting any physical activity or a diet plan to aid your recovery.