How does a healthy diet increase survival of cancer patients?
Published: June 14, 2012
For years, a cancer diagnosis meant lots of rest and relaxation, and no worry about what you’re eating or how much exercise you’re getting.
But now the American Cancer Society is urging patients to change their diet and get moving so they can live the rest of their lives cancer-free.
When 50-year-old Jan Bellamy was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, she promised herself she would do whatever it takes to survive.
“I got angry. I said, I’m not going to let this beat me,” says Bellamy. “If you want to live, you do what it takes.”
But in order to increase her chances of survival, doctors told the 242-pound woman, she needed to make major lifestyle changes.
“In order to lessen my chances of having a recurrence, I needed to lose weight, exercise, change the way I was eating,” says Bellamy.
Cindy Clark, Oncology Nutrition Coordinator, says, “It’s always been a thought that weight, physical activity and diet would have an impact on cancer survivorship, but now there’s evidence that actually supports that.”
According to the American Cancer Society’s latest guidelines, to reduce risk of recurrence and increase survival rates, cancer patients should maintain a healthy weight, get adequate physical activity and eat a healthy diet.
“Previously, I think a lot of people when they go through treatments, they’ve always been told to take it easy, to rest and this is different. This is no, we don’t want you to be inactive, we actually want you to be cautious about what you’re eating,” says Clark.
New research is backing up the new guidelines.
One Canadian study found that breast cancer patients who got at least 4 hours of moderate exercise each week reduced their risk of death by 34%. Their chance of recurrence also decreased and is down 24%.
“Evidence shows that if you keep active during your treatment, you have overall less fatigue. You can tolerate your treatments better, which means you can get more treatments in. You overall just feel better,” says Clark.
Bellamy says for her, weight loss could have been the difference between life and death, so she changed her diet. She cut out processed foods, fats and sugars and started walking.
Before she knew it, she dropped 40 pounds. Her goal is to lose another 20.
“Nothing can stop me. I think i can accomplish anything now,” says Bellamy.
It’s important not to over do it if you’re going through cancer treatment.
If you were in shape before diagnosis, then you should be able to almost maintain your level of physical activity. If you weren’t very active, then start with simple exercises like walking.
(Information courtesy NBC News)
Article source: http://www.cnycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=765559