Lifestyle Changes to Manage Breast Cancer
Lifestyle changes can help:
- Keep the body strong through treatments
- The immune system fight cancer
- Improve outlook and mood
- Prevent other problems that could make it harder to get better
Smoking The body needs to heal from cancer treatments. Smoking puts toxic chemicals into the body. This makes it more difficult to heal. Smoking increases the risk of problems from medical procedures. It can also slow tissue healing.
Quitting smoking helps the body repair itself. Quitting will help boost the immune system. This helps fight the cancer and improve recovery from treatment.
Limiting Exposure to Estrogen
Some people have hormone-sensitive breast cancer. If so, they may be advised to limit foods with phytoestrogens. These are soy or soy-based products. Phytoestrogens are found in plants. But, when eaten, it acts like estrogen in the body. Soy milk, tofu, and edamame are common soy products. A dietitian can help with meal planning, if needed.
Reducing the Risk of Infection
Making Diet Changes
A healthful diet can help the body in many ways. It can improve mood and energy levels. Good nutrition also helps tissue heal and recover.
Cancer and some of its treatments can make a person not want to eat. It is important to make the most of the calories that are eaten. A dietitian can make a meal plan to help with these challenges.
Exercise has many benefits. It can help the body cope better with cancer and treatment. Exercise has many benefits. It helps with:
- Reaching and keeping a healthy weight—which can help lower estrogen levels
- Promoting fitness
- Boosting energy levels
- Making the immune system work better
- Boosting mood and outlook
The doctor can give guidance on safe exercise.
Managing TirednessBeing tired is common with cancer and its treatment. It helps to focus on the most important tasks. Getting help with chores, shopping, and meals is also helpful. Planning rest periods is important too.
- Family and friends
- Religious community
- Support groups for people with the same type of cancer
- Social workers and counselors who specialize in cancer
Family and caregivers may also need support. Support groups or counseling can help them.
- Choosing home or hospice care
- Decisions about money
- Advance directives, which include:
- Legal issues, like wills
- Hospital orders for care
- Power of attorney for medical care and finances
- Insurance coverage
The healthcare team can provide more information on these concerns.
- Breast cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/breast-disorders/breast-cancer.
- Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/breast-cancer-in-women.
- Sørensen HL, Schjølberg TK, et al. Social support in early-stage breast cancer patients with fatigue. BMC Womens Health. 2020;20(1):243.
- Stay healthy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/healthy.html.
- Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/patient/breast-treatment-pdq#section/_185.
- Nicole Meregian, PA
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