Healthy Living Can Prevent Breast Cancer

Research shows good nutrition and exercise can help prevent breast cancer.

You might be able to find help fighting breast cancer and other types of cancers at your local grocery store and fitness centers, according to the latest research findings.

Nutrition Expert Marla Klein, MS, RD, MCHES, CPS, DRCC, with the Magnolia-Meals at Home in Rockland and Westchester counties, says there's a lot of research supporting the good effects of getting to or maintaining a healthy weight. 

"Oftentimes it’s not what’s on the chart, it’s what feels right, what you’ve discussed with your provider," Klein says.

Dr. Marian Neuhouser, Ph.D, RD. is a nutritional epidemiologist with a background in nutritional sciences. She is an investigator at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her research is focused on lifestyle factors such as nutrition and physical activity. Some factors may prevent breast and prostate cancer and improve survivorship in those diagnosed with cancer.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 American women will die from breast cancer.

Nutritionists and doctors are recommending up to 10 helpings of fruits and vegetables a day, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and, if they can handle it, high-fiber foods such as nuts, fresh berries, unsalted popcorn. 

On the plus side, Klein says, "There are a lot of choices out there. And, healthy eating is a little more convenient - for example, there’s a brown rice now that you put in the microwave for a minute or two." 

This is not just for adult women, Klein says. "This is for families: adults, children, all ages.”

Given what the research indicates, Dr. Neuhouser says, “One of the most important things is that if a woman is overweight or obese, she should be advised to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Daily physical activity and following healthy eating habits with plentiful fruits and vegetables and minimal empty calories and fried foods will help achieve these goals.”

Dr. Neuhouser says while it can be challenging to lose weight, “Small changes can add up and make a big difference."

"The other big piece that has to go hand and hand with this is physical activity," Klein says. "I’m a nutritionist....they work together to keep you healthier."

Dr. Neuhouser agrees. "If someone is not used to physical activity, try a five to ten minute walk and gradually increase the time. Having physical activity partners or walking partners always helps. I know my soccer team will be waiting for me on the field, so even if I am tired or busy, I still show up."

When it comes to food, Dr. Neuhouser says, "Start with making one new food change each week. Instead of eating two cookies, eat just one.”

If you are concerned about your weight, Dr. Neuhouser suggests getting the support you need by asking your doctor for “ a referral to a reputable weight loss program.” For nutrition advice, Dr. Neuhouser recommends asking for a referral to a registered dietitian.

The healthier you are the better you cope with acute or chronic illness," Klein says. "This is an every day thing. It's like putting your seatbelt on and brushing your teeth."

Anna Cangiano October 28, 2012 at 05:32 PM


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