Healthy Eating and Fitness Help Women Prevent and Survive Breast Cancer

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Many of you reading this post either currently have, have survived, or know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  According to a 2005 report from the Institute of Medicine, roughly 2.3 million women in the USA have or have had breast tumors.

Increasing breast cancer awareness is a vital part of prevention as well as survival. Exercise and healthy eating may protect against breast cancer, its recurrence, and can help survivors rebuild their strength and energy.

Are You Aware?

Did you know that new research shows breast cancer occurs in African American women at an earlier age and has a higher rate of mortality than in white women?

The American Cancer Society estimated more than 19,000 black women would be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  Even though that number represents 12% fewer occurances than in white women, it is the second-most common cancer among black women, surpassed only by lung cancer.

"[Even after accounting for lower income and less access to strong health care,] poorer outcomes among African-American women persist. … There is also evidence that aggressive tumor characteristics are more common in African-American women than white women." (Source: Black America Web)

Beating Breast Cancer

Excerpt from the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month site:

Healthy Eating
Breast cancer research has shown that obesity and weight gain can increase the risk of recurrence. They also raise the risk of other important disorders, such as heart disease and diabetes. An overall healthy weight loss program – one that includes low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains – may protect against cancer.

Women recovering from breast cancer are encouraged to follow established guidelines for good health. Working with a doctor is the best way for survivors to develop a safe nutrition and exercise plan that matches their needs.

Exercise and Fitness
Regular exercise provides real benefits to breast cancer survivors. A recent study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, March 2007, showed that women with breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast may benefit from participating in a tailored yoga program that includes gentle yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.

In addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, physical activity such as yoga can increase strength and energy while reducing stress. Exercise can also reduce symptoms of fatigue, nausea and pain. So, choose an activity that suits you and get active!

The American Cancer Society hopes the message that all women get from Breast Cancer Awareness Month is how important it is to keep informed about the risks and to be proactive in getting screened and treated.

By Laura Brooks

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