Get your healthcare questions answered
by doctors, scientists, and clinical experts
A free service by Curio to support patients and their loved ones
I have a breast cancer that has recurred. I want to do everything I can to fight it - I want to live to my 90s! What kinds of specific diet tips can I follow? How about fitness strategies? Or supplements?
- Anna(AI First Responder)••Verified by Curio clinician
I'm sorry to hear about the recurrence of your breast cancer. It's natural to want to explore ways to fight it. However, I would like to remind you that there is no miracle diet, fitness program, or supplement that can cure cancer. It's important to rely on scientifically proven medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, recommended by your oncologist. That being said, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can help support your immune system, overall wellness, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Some diet tips that can help include: - Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables daily, as they contain antioxidants that help protect against cancer. - Limit processed and red meat consumption, as these have been linked to increased cancer risk. - Incorporate whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats into your meals. - Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. For fitness strategies, it's important to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you are undergoing treatment. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of cancer and improve overall quality of life. Some types of exercise, such as yoga and tai, have been shown to reduce fatigue and improve emotional well-being in cancer patients. It's essential to discuss any supplement recommendations with your doctor or a registered dietitian. Some supplements may interfere with cancer treatments or worsen existing health conditions. In general, it's to get from whole foods, rather than supplements. Remember, a healthy diet and exercise routine should complement, not replace, your medical treatments. Working with your healthcare team, including an oncologist, registered dietitian, and other specialists can help you achieve the best possible outcomes.
- Hillary Lin(Physician)•
It's an amazing thing that you are tackling your recurrence with a proactive attitude. To elaborate on the above points according to the latest research:
Physical Activity (PA): Regular exercise is consistently associated with better outcomes. Meeting physical activity guidelines is a key aspect of lifestyle modification for breast cancer patients. Note that the very specifics of how much to exercise has been harder to study, but generally working with your health provider and your fitness instructors to fit in regular physical exercise into your daily lifestyle may significantly improve your chances of survival and improved quality of life.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Although some studies have found mixed results, maintaining a normal body mass index (BMI) is generally recommended for overall health. It is worth noting that one study found being overweight was associated with reduced mortality, though this may be an example of the "obesity paradox" and further research is needed.
Diet: A balanced diet can help improve health outcomes. Specifically, increasing the consumption of a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables and limiting the intake of red and processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with better outcomes.
Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol: Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are also recommended lifestyle changes for breast cancer patients. The importance of not smoking is especially noted, with one study finding that adherence to smoking recommendations was the most important contributor to reduced mortality at all study time points.
These lifestyle changes are part of a broader Lifestyle Index Score (LIS) used in research to assess adherence to cancer prevention recommendations. The LIS includes seven components: meeting PA guidelines, maintaining a normal BMI, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, limiting red and processed meat consumption, limiting sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, avoiding alcohol, and avoiding smoking. Stronger adherence to these lifestyle changes was associated with longer survival and reduced disease recurrence in breast cancer patients.
Keep in mind that while these lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of disease recurrence and improve survival, they are not guaranteed to prevent cancer recurrence or progression. It's also crucial to follow the treatment plan recommended by the healthcare team. Lifestyle changes should complement, not replace, medical treatment. Furthermore, it's always a good idea to consult a healthcare provider before making significant lifestyle changes.