Breast Cancer Survivors Say, “What Can I Do?”

I just got back from Delaware where I gave the keynote at the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s Annual Breast Cancer Update, a conference attended by cancer survivors, health care professionals and others interested in breast cancer prevention.  With so many ideas out there on how to make a positive difference for survivors – from dietary changes and exercise to supplements – it’s hard to know which steps are most likely to help (and which can possibly cause harm).

One of the physicians participating in a panel discussion noted that we need to look at both “the seeds and the soil”.  That is, look at treatments that target any remaining cells that could be “seeds” for cancer recurrence, and also focus on how we can create “soil” – meaning an environment within our body – that does not support cancer cell growth.

Although weight gain and decreases in physical activity are common among breast cancer survivors, part of my presentation at the conference included studies showing that efforts to stop the gain and find ways to work in physical activity daily seem to deserve spots high on the priority list.

Moderate physical activity alone, without changes in diet, usually leads to only modest and slow weight loss. Conference participants were buzzing when they saw data showing that physical activity seems to have important protective effects quite soon, even without weight loss.

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