Cancer and Lifestyle Changes – Are You Brave Enough?

One of the reasons that the number of cancer suffers has increased is the fact that many more people undergo routine screening and early detection has increased the number of sufferers. Health care workers estimate that the USA has ten million cancer sufferers, which represents a figure between three and four percent of the population. However it is expected that in the next ten years the proportion will increase as more people are getting older and more people survive cancer.

However, it does not alter the fact that cancer survivors have a greater risk for developing serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis as well as secondary cancers. This is likely to be both a result of lifestyle and genetic risk factors. As a general rule, physical exercise, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and reducing a fat and sugar intake will offer significant protection against most serious conditions. Interestingly recent research has indicated that increasing the amount of exercise reduce the risk of secondary breast cancers. A low fat diet is widely regarded as a preventative measure against secondary breast cancer in post menopausal women.

Yet the fact is that most cancer patients do not significantly alter their lifestyle after being cured. Most of the breast cancer risk factors described is related to a woman’s exposure to estrogens including early menstruation, late menopause which increases the total amount of monthly cycles. Risks are reduced when a woman has an early first birth and an early menopause. The relationship of body fatness to breast cancer risk is ambiguous; it is probable that post menopausal breast cancer has a direct link with both weight gain especially abdominal weight gain and also a lack of physical activity. There is a suggestion that there is an increased risk of breast cancer for women who smoke in early adolescence.

In 2005 by Holmes MD, Chen WY, Feskanich D, Kroenke CH, Colditz GA studied 2987 women diagnosed with stage I, II or III breast cancer they found that an increase in exercise reduced the amount of deaths from cancer. The most improvement was found in those women that walked for between three and five hours a week. Results were positive from a study by Pierce JP, Stefanick ML, Flatt SW et al (2007) entitled Greater survival after breast cancer in physically active women with high vegetable-fruit intake regardless of obesity; indicated that the combination of consuming at least five servings of fresh vegetables or fruits and increasing their physical activity to at least half an hour a day for six days a week increased the number of women who survived estrogen positive receptor tumors. However other studies have not reported a difference.

In women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, studies have shown a positive link between treatment failure and high intakes of fat, both saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. The fresh start trial studied newly diagnosed breast and prostate cancer patients, and it found that directly mailing patients encouraged a healthy lifestyle including eating less fat, more fruit and vegetables, than other conventional methods. Although this is in tune with psychological cognitive behavioral patterns, it needs more research to observe results (Demark-Wahnefried W, Clipp EC, Lipkus IM et al (2007). More research is needed because it would indicate the fact that newly diagnosed cancer patients have sufficient fear to make meaningful changes in their way of life it is no means certain that all health care staff promote such changes.