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Best Diet For Breast Cancer Survivors

Should You Take Supplements During Cancer Treatment

Local breast cancer survivor shares nutrition tips that helped her heal

If youre not eating as much as usual during treatment, or if you have side effects like vomiting and diarrhea that cause you to lose vitamins and nutrients, you might consider taking a multivitamin.

Vitamin D tends to be the most common vitamin deficiency, says Rajagopal. Vitamin D helps keep your immune system strong, reduces fatigue and supports bone health. Especially if youre on steroids, youll be at risk for bone density loss.

Talk to a registered dietitian and your oncologist before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet.

Limit Salt And Sodium

Eating foods with a lot of salt can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease. Most people should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Fresh food that isnt processed is usually lower in sodium.

Read food labels to find out the amount of sodium in the product. Choose foods that are labeled low sodium, very low sodium, or sodium-free.

Follow these tips to reduce how much sodium you eat:

  • When cooking, flavor your foods with fresh herbs and spices instead of salt.
  • Limit the amount of canned foods you eat .
  • Limit the amount of packaged, processed, pickled, and cured foods you eat .
  • Dont add salt to your food at the table.

How Much Activity Gives A Benefit

A pooled analysis that combined data from over 13,000 breast cancer survivors found those who were more active had better survival .

For example, survivors who got 10 or more MET hours of activity a week had a 30 percent lower overall mortality compared to less active survivors .

You may not need to do intense exercise to get a benefit though. One study found activity equal to a 30-minute brisk walk several times a week, improved survival .

The American Cancer Society recommends breast cancer survivors :

  • Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activity as soon as possible after diagnosis
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week
  • Do strength training exercises at least twice a week

A meta-analysis that combined the findings from 16 studies showed breast cancer survivors who got this recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week had an :

  • 11 percent lower risk of breast cancer mortality
  • 24 percent lower risk of overall mortality

For a summary of research studies on physical activity and breast cancer survival, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

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Red And Orange Produce

Carotenoids are natural pigments that give tomatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes their color. Your body converts them to vitamin A, which is important for your eyes. They also help keep your skin healthy. More research is needed, but some studies suggest there may be a link between carotenoids and a lower risk of some types of breast cancer.

Weight Gain And Obesity

Best Multivitamin for Breast Cancer

Theres evidence to suggest that breast cancer survivors with a higher body fatness are less likely to fare as well. The exact cause of this association is unclear.

Chronic inflammation associated with obesity may enhance the progression of disease and the impact of overweight and obesity on the risk of other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, may contribute to reduced overall survival in cancer patients.

Theres also evidence that women who are overweight or obese display adverse tumour characteristics that might affect outcome. It has also been suggested that less effective treatment might be due to too low a dose of chemotherapy treatment.

Currently it isnt possible to conclude with confidence that interventions aimed at reducing body fatness would necessarily improve outcome in breast cancer survivors.

Furthermore, links have been found between being overweight at diagnosis and longer survival in patients with certain types of cancers, including colorectal and lung. The association between higher body mass index and improved outcome is currently unexplained.

Patients who are overweight might have sufficient lean tissue to provide resilience against the metabolic side effects of cancer and its treatment. A crucial limitation of the studies reviewing weight is the ability to distinguish between intentional and disease-related weight loss.

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Maintain A Healthy Weight After Treatment

People with obesity have higher levels of estrogen circulating in their bodies than women who are in their ideal body weight range.

Many studies, including a one conducted by researchers from the Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research in Tehran, Iran, have demonstrated an association between body mass size and breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

If youre overweight, Taylor recommends losing weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise once youve finished treatment.

Weight loss during treatment isnt typically encouraged, as this is often associated with undesired muscle loss, leading to fatigue, a suppressed immune system and a slower healing process.

Allow your body the nutrients it needs to fight cancer, she says.

Once your treatment is done, consider meeting with a dietitian for individualized recommendations to decrease recurrence risk and support a healthy weight.

Will Radiotherapy Affect My Diet

Having radiotherapy should not cause any dietary problems but its still good to eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids.

If you have to travel for your treatment, take a drink and snack with you and plan meals that are easy to prepare for when you get home. Read more about shopping and cooking during treatment.

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Are Coffee Or Other Drinks With Caffeine Okay To Drink

Its fine for most people to drink moderate amounts of coffee or other caffeinated drinks . Some research suggests that there are possible health benefits linked to drinking moderate amounts of coffee. Avoid or limit sweetened beverages with added caffeine and avoid alcoholic beverages with added caffeine. Also, keep in mind that drinks such as flavored lattes can have a lot of calories and sugar.

Can I Lower My Risk Of Breast Cancer Progressing Or Coming Back

Best Diet For A Breast Cancer Patient

If you have breast cancer, you probably want to know if there are things you can do that might lower your risk of the cancer growing or coming back, such as getting or staying active, eating a certain type of diet, or taking nutritional supplements. Fortunately, breast cancer is one of the best studied types of cancer in this regard, and research has shown there are some things you can do that might be helpful.

Staying as healthy as possible is more important than ever after breast cancer treatment. Controlling your weight, being physically active, and eating well may help you lower your risk of breast cancer coming back, as well as help protect you from other health problems.

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Two New Studies Suggest Diet Can Help Breast Cancer Survivors Live Longer

Mya Nelson

Mya R. Nelson is a science writer for American Institute for Cancer Research.

Can breast cancer survivors diets help them live longer? Two new studies both partially funded by AICR suggest yes. The research yields important insights into an area that has previously given inconclusive findings.

Today, more women than ever before are surviving breast cancer and that has led to increased research into how diet may play a role in survival. Breast cancer survivors are at increased risk of developing another breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, which increases risk of mortality. In 2014, AICRs systematic review of the global evidence found there was not enough evidence to conclude that diet affected breast cancer survival.

Some research conducted in recent years has hinted that a healthy diet can improve survival, such as these papers AICR has written about here and here. However, there is a critical need for more and better research, says Nigel Brockton, PhD., AICRs Vice President of Research.

Many of the estimated 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the US are eager for reliable dietary advice that can help them live longer, healthier lives, said Brockton. AICR funded this research to help provide some of those answers.

Why Is Your Diet Important During Cancer Treatment

Since cancer treatment can lead to fluctuations in appetite and body weight, its important to pay close attention to your diet. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet during chemotherapy or radiation therapy can:

  • Help manage treatment side effects
  • Increase energy
  • Reduce inflammation

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Shopping And Cooking During Treatment

Simple tasks like shopping and cooking can seem exhausting during your treatment and as you recover. Try to accept any offers of help, even if youre used to coping on your own. You can also take advantage of online shopping or ask local shops if they have a telephone ordering and delivery service.

Its important to have fresh food in your diet, but if you can’t shop regularly, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are full of nutrients and can be eaten every day. Choose tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup and tinned vegetables that have less salt.

Find out more about coping with fatigue during and after treatment.

How Does Cancer Treatment Affect Your Diet

182 best images about Breast Cancer, I Didn

Treatments such as chemotherapy and some forms of radiation therapy can cause a variety of side effects, including:

  • Constipation, which can cause discomfort and further reduce your desire to eat
  • Diarrhea, which can drain your body of nutrients
  • Fatigue, which means youre less active, so you burn fewer calories and dont feel as hungry throughout the day
  • Loss of taste, which can make food unappealing
  • Nausea and vomiting, which might reduce your appetite and cause weight loss

Sometimes it also depends on the specific type of cancer you have, explains Rajagopal. Treatment for breast cancer and blood cancers often involve steroids. Steroids can actually increase your appetite and increase your blood sugar levels, which might lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. So instead of losing weight, its possible to gain quite a bit of weight from the combination of medications and a more sedentary lifestyle during cancer treatment.

Some people also have hormone therapy after chemotherapy for breast cancer or endometrial cancer. The drugs suppress production of estrogen, a hormone that plays an important role in metabolism. If your metabolism slows down, you may put on weight.

People with pancreatic cancer often find it difficult to maintain their weight. Since the pancreas isnt functioning the way it should, they may not be able to digest food normally. This can lead to weight loss or malnourishment.

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Focus On Nutrients And Get The Most Nutrients Per Calorie

Choose foods from the food groups like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, meats/eggs and dairy products.

A balanced diet helps ensure youre getting the nutrients you need to keep your body strong.

A balanced diet supports a healthy immune system, balanced electrolytes and lean body mass, gives you energy and helps fight the fatigue so often associated with cancer treatment, says Taylor.

Screening Enrollment And Withdrawals

We screened 50 women of whom 30 were enrolled in the study with 15 randomized to the GHC and 15 to the FRD group. Twenty-nine of the 30 participants were evaluable for the primary outcome of change in BFI from baseline through month 3. All study visits were completed by 100% of women in the GHC group, and 93% in the FRD. Figure 1 documents exclusions and reasons for discontinuing the interventions.

Consort flow diagram BCRT

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Strengthening Your Body And Slowly Shedding Extra Pounds

If you’ve had lymph nodes removed, many experts will warn you not to lift more than 15 pounds with the affected arm. Bernard, who had been working out with weights a lot at the time of her diagnosis and worried about losing her new muscle tone, says she was “scared straight” by such warnings, and found herself almost afraid to do anything with that arm.

“That’s why you get frozen shoulder, though. You’re supposed to try to work that arm and strengthen it again,” she says. “You have to start with smaller weights and go slowly, being very careful of the arm, but strengthening it is not only fine but important.”

You may not lose weight as fast as you’d like after breast cancer treatment, but keeping up with a regular exercise program will strengthen your body and help you fight many of those other lingering side effects, like fatigue. “You want to regain your body right away. I know the urge,” says Bernard. “That’s just not possible. You’ve been through a lot and your body is still coming back from it. It could take months or years to get back to where you were. But if you keep exercising, it will happen.”

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Whats The Best Diet For Weight Loss

Breast cancer survivors discuss plant-based diets

Research shows that limiting the number of calories you eat is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. To lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, you may need to make lifestyle changes, and dieting alone may not work. Cutting out whole food groups, such as fats or carbohydrates, also isnt likely to work and is hard to keep doing for long periods of time.

If you exercise often, you can increase your lean muscle tissue. This will increase the rate at which your body burns calories. Exercise regularly to keep or increase your lean muscle mass and decrease your fat mass.

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Following A Large Group Of Survivors

Both studies are led by nutritional epidemiologist Maryam Farvid, PhD, and pulled data from about a quarter of a million women who were part of two large observational studies. These Nurses Health studies had started in 1976 and 1989. The women were cancer-free and ages 55 or below when they joined the study. Each participant regularly answered questions about her dietary habits, along with family history, activity and other relevant risk factors.

Cancer Diet: Foods To Add And Avoid During Cancer Treatment

Cancer can affect every aspect of your health, including your appetite and diet. Selvi Rajagopal, M.D., a specialist in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, explains why your diet is so important during cancer treatment, and provides tips on foods to add and avoid.

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Eating More Fruits And Vegetables May Help Breast Cancer Survivors Live Longer

November 19, 2020, research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is first author of a new study in Cancer Research that examined the impact of fruit and vegetable consumption among women diagnosed with breast cancer.

What did your study find?

We examined data on nearly 9,000 women with breast cancer who were followed for up to 30 years, and observed that those who consumed higher amounts of fruits and vegetables after their diagnosis were less likely to die during the study period than those with lower amounts of fruits and vegetables in their diets. High fruit and vegetable consumption, and high consumption of just vegetables, was associated with lower mortality from all causesmost women with breast cancer die from other causes. Some subgroups of fruits and vegetables were also associated with lower all-cause mortality, including leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, and vegetables high in beta-carotene.

We also observed that eating high amounts of blueberries was significantly associated with lower breast cancer-specific mortality, as well as all-cause mortality. This may be because blueberries contain bioactive components that may prevent or slow breast tumors from growing or spreading.

What are the public health implications of your findings?

How does the current paper build on your previous studies looking at diet and breast cancer?

Foods To Help With Treatment Side Effects

Pin on Breast Cancer Awareness

You may experience a variety of side effects while undergoing breast cancer treatment. Here are a few suggestions on what you can eat or do to help alleviate your symptoms.


If you experience nausea, your dietitian may recommend that you try to eat more foods that are cool or at room temperature because they dont have a strong odor. It may also help to eat lower-fat food, as fats take longer to digest.

Dont skip meals entirely if you have nausea, since an empty stomach can make nausea worse, Taylor says. Instead, focus on small bites of food throughout the day.

Avoid strong flavors. Feel free to incorporate ginger root into your recipes, as this can help settle a nauseated stomach.


If constipation becomes an issue, your dietitian may encourage you to eat fiber-rich foods and increase your fluid intake, Taylor adds. Low-intensity walking and warm beverages also can help encourage regular bowel movements.


To combat fatigue, choose high-protein snacks and small frequent meals rather than large meals. People often experience more fatigue when theyre not eating well or when theyre losing weight during treatment.

If youre experiencing any side effect that affects your ability to eat regularly, ask your care team if you can meet with a dietitian to review individualized nutrition recommendations.

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Maintaining A Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese affects breast cancer risk differently before and after menopause.

  • Before menopause, women who are overweight or obese have a modestly decreased risk of breast cancer .
  • After menopause, women who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of breast cancer .

Although women who are overweight or obese may have a lower risk of breast cancer before menopause, weight gain should be avoided. Women who gain weight in adulthood have an increased risk of breast cancer before and after menopause .

Most breast cancers occur after menopause. Any weight you gain before menopause may be carried into your postmenopausal years, so its important to maintain a healthy weight throughout your life.


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