There are over 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. With this growing population of survivors, researchers are starting to focus their attention on the specific lifestyle factors associated with the best and longest survivorship outcomes. Breast cancer survivors are at higher risk for other chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other cancers.
A new report on breast cancer survivors was released from the American Institute for Cancer Research on Wednesday, October 16, 2014. The report is the latest from the Continuous Update Project (CUP) of the World Cancer Research Fund International, and is based on a systematic literature review of diet, nutrition (including body composition) and physical activity and specific outcomes in people diagnosed with breast cancer.
While specific recommendations for cancer survivors could not be made due to lack of convincing evidence, the findings in this report point to some key links between better survival after breast cancer. So, what are some of the healthy habits that long-term survivors practice?
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight
- Being physically active
- Eating foods containing fiber
- Eating foods containing isoflavones from foods like soy
- A lower intake of total fat and, in particular, saturated fat (because of the connection between increase heart disease risk in women who have undergone breast cancer treatment.)
This report further supports our philosophy at Meals to Heal, including an emphasis on the important role of food and nutrition throughout treatment and into survivorship. By striving to include a diet rich in whole foods – plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, healthy fats from nuts, olive oil, fish, and legumes, and whole soy foods like tofu, soy milk, miso, and edamame you can foster good nutrition habits that can help you thrive and survive.
This is the first CUP report to look at survivorship. Recommendations for cancer survivors will be reviewed in 2017.
Stephanie Lang is completing her dietetic internship and M.S. degree in Nutrition Education at Teachers College, Columbia University to become a Registered Dietitian.
Source: World Cancer Research Fund International. Continuous Update Project Report: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Breast Cancer Survivors. 2014. Available at: www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/Breast-Cancer-Survivors-2014-Report.pdf