Tuesday, January 27, 2015

UAB Study: Life After Breast Cancer and How Exercise Can Help

UAB researchers want to know how to help breast cancer survivors exercise more to lower the chances of the cancer coming back. If you are a breast cancer survivor, you may be able to help by joining the BEAT Cancer Exercise Study!
One of the biggest fears of breast cancer survivors is the cancer coming back. Dealing with the worries, feeling strong, healthy, and confident take time. Researchers are studying ways to lower the chances of the cancer returning. They are also studying ways to help women cope with the stress and worry. Here is what they know so far:  

  • Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol. Drinking alcohol may be related to a higher risk of breast cancer. Drinking large amounts of alcohol seems to stimulate more estrogen production in the body that could increase one type of breast cancer.  So, limit your alcohol intake to no more than one alcoholic beverage a day or fewer. When it comes to alcohol and breast cancer, less is best!
  • Stay at a Healthy Weight.  While being overweight before the diagnosis of breast cancer seems to be the strongest predictor of recurrence, many doctors recommend maintaining a healthy weight for better health. Many women gain weight after a breast cancer diagnosis. The numbers could be as high as 60% to 70%. Some studies show that this could increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence and of heart disease. Less exercise, starting menopause, and some breast cancer treatments may be to blame for the increased weight gain.

  • Eat Low Fat. Some studies show that a low fat diet can lower the chances of recurrence. Focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats!

  • Get Checked for Vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D may be related to an increased risk of breast cancer. Taking more is not better, but if your levels are low, you need to get them into the normal, healthy range.

  • Stay on Your Medicines. Be sure to stick with your medication regimen that your cancer doctor prescribes. Many women don’t take their medicines as their doctor advises – this could lead to a cancer coming back.

  • Exercise! Ten-year survival rates are higher for women who exercise.

And speaking of exercise, here is a great opportunity to help researchers and yourself if you are a breast cancer survivor! UAB researchers are working with the National Cancer Institute on the BEAT Cancer Study. BEAT stands for Better Exercise Adherence for Treatment. They want to see if they can help breast cancer survivors exercise more to lower their stress levels and lower the chances of the cancer coming back.
The 12-week program encourages women to walk at a healthy pace. If you take part in the study, the staff will help you begin an exercise program and monitor your progress. You begin with 20 minutes a day, three times a week and working toward 150 minutes a week. During the program’s first six weeks, you will receive coaching from an exercise specialist and learn how to use a heart-rate monitor.
You may qualify for the BEAT study if you:
·       You have had breast cancer
·       Are 19 to 70 years old
·       Do not exercise more than 60 minutes a week
·       205-975-1247 or email moveforward@uab.edu

     Beth Kitchin, PhD, RDN
Assistant Professor, Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham


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