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Reverse Obesity, Reduce Body Fat, and Optimize BMI
Losing weight and getting in shape may be the most difficult of the recommendations to achieve. The benefits of finding a successful long-term strategy for optimizing body mass index are great. An Italian study found that women who had previously been treated for breast cancer and who had a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 or a waist:hip ratio of less than or equal to 0.85 were 38% more likely to be survivors than those whose BMI was greater than 30 or who had a waist:hip ratio of <0.80.37 That means that a woman who is 5 feet 5 inches tall should reach a goal weight of less than 143 pounds. Unfortunately, gaining weight after diagnosis is common among survivors and is associated with increased recurrence and mortality.38 Every 11 pounds of weight gain is associated with 13% increase in breast cancer mortality.39 Achieving optimal body weight and reducing body fat and waist:hip ratio are not easy for most women and often require the guidance and support of professional trainers and health-care practitioners. The benefits are very real. If this seems daunting, consider doing all the other recommendations first. Eating more healthfully, increasing activity, and drinking more green tea and little alcohol are a good combination that may result in optimal body mass index and level of fitness.
So, the answer to the question "what now?" is to make at least one positive choice toward posttreatment self-care. It is unlikely that you will be able to do them all. Be kind to yourself and create realistic goals that will be long lasting. If these healthy survivorship strategies seem too much to achieve, ask a licensed naturopathic doctor to help you to help yourself. If someone you care about has had breast cancer, let her know this empowering information. If you are a practitioner, make this article and chart (Lifestyle Strategies For Reducing Recurrence and Increasing Survival of Breast Cancer) into a handout for patients. This information is free and easy to distribute, so tweet, post, or shout from the rafters, "Take control of your survivorship, sister!"
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30. Wood HD, Park KS, Ro J, et al. Differential influence of dietary soy intake on the risk of breast cancer recurrence related to HER2 status. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(2):198–205.
31. Kwan ML, Kushi LH, Weltzien E, et al. Alcohol consumption and breast cancer recurrence and survival among women with early-stage breast cancer: the life after cancer epidemiology study. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(29):4410–4416.
32. Franceschi S, Dal Maso L, Zucchetto A, et al. Prospective Analysis of Case–Control Studies on Environmental Factors and Health (PACE) study group. Alcohol consumption and survival after breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18(3):1011–1012.
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38. Carmichael AR. Obesity as a risk factor for development and poor prognosis of breast cancer. BJOG. 2006;113(10):1160–1166.
39. Nichols HB, Trentham-Dietz A, Egan KM, et al. Body mass index before and after breast cancer diagnosis: associations with all-cause, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality. Cancer Epidemol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18(5):1403–1409.
Barbara MacDonald is a licensed naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, and Chinese herbalist practicing in Camden, Maine. She is coauthor of the text The Breast Cancer Companion: A Complementary Care Manual: The Practitioner's Guide to Support Women Through Conventional Cancer Treatment (3rd edition), to be published later this year. She is a 1997 graduate of National College of Naturopathic Medicine; a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and the Maine Association of Naturopathic Doctors and Acupuncturists; and a charter member of Destination Wellness Midcoast Maine. Dr. MacDonald has a general practice wherein she facilitates those with chronic illness, cancer, and other health challenges to eliminate obstacles to optimal health and inspires them to fully express their highest and best selves.
Contact: www.camdenwholehealth.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; 207-230-1131.
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