Health Depends On Eating Habits

Eating well gives your body the energy and nutrients needed for healing, a process that continues after treatment ends. Protein, for example, is a building block used in the new cells that replace those lost to chemotherapy and radiation. Protein is necessary, Special Situations: When Exercise Is Especially Difficult If you have compounding health conditions or disabilities, some of the exercises described may be difficult or impossible for you to do. Sometimes even medications that improve your health may interfere with exercise to a lesser or greater degree.

Kaelyn McGregor, a lively 42-year-old who has always been active, found that true this past year when she began taking a drug designed to combat metastases. “I’ve been dealing with a number of new physical challenges. I can assure you that trying to stay fit while also using a cane on certain days is quite the predicament,” she says wryly. An experienced physical therapist or personal trainer may be able to suggest modifications of our exercises or an entirely different exercise plan tailored to your needs. Information on locating these professionals appears later.

Too, during the cycles of regeneration and remodelling that take place in the skin after surgery. Countless other nutrients found in food play roles in healing as well. Vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, and carbohydrates, fats, and fatty acids are a few examples. Nutrients that help strengthen bones include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are found in food and available also through a daily multivitamin and supplements combining calcium and vitamin D. 

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis—a condition in which bone density thins out, leaving bones increasingly brittle and thus more likely to fracture—affects an estimated eight million women. As explained briefly in the preceding section as well as later, research suggests the loss of bone mass that leads to osteoporosis may be hastened in women who experience menopause induced by chemotherapy. One study suggests chemotherapy may accelerate bone loss even when it does not prompt early menopause.

The foods you choose may have many other healthful nutrients. Filling much of your plate each day with a variety of colourful, pungent vegetables and fruits ensures you of a good supply of antioxidants, a catchall term for any compound that can counteract unstable molecules like free radicals, which are thought to have a hand in cancer, heart disease, and many other ailments. Paired with these antioxidants are countless other helpful nutrients that are not found in bottled supplements. What about news reports that dietary fat may play a role in breast cancer recurrence? 

In 2005, researchers delving into this question through the large-scale Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS) found that breast cancer recurred less frequently in those who consistently ate a low-fat diet. It is important to note that study participants who successfully stuck with the low-fat diet lost weight (roughly five pounds) and sustained this weight loss over the five years of the study. By contrast, during breast cancer treatment, most women gain weight. 

Many scientists speculate that it was the ability of WINS participants in the low-fat group to achieve and maintain a more healthy weight that led to fewer breast cancer relapses. Of course, a decrease in dietary fat and the substitution of fat calories with calories from fruits and vegetables may have played a role, too. Currently, there is no other scientific evidence that even the healthiest diet will minimize the odds that breast cancer might recur. Possibly research will one day show this. 

Meantime, a varied diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes, fish, poultry, and healthful oils does offer breast cancer survivors many important benefits by helping to ward off a variety of other cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular ailments like heart attacks and strokes, among other illnesses. What’s more, loading up on vegetables and fruits can help crowd out less healthy foods—foods that often are higher in calories—simply because you’ll be too full to eat them. That can help you reach or remain within a healthy weight range, which does appear to boost survival odds and lower recurrence rates among women who have had breast cancer.