Let’s Exercise Our Choices

by Rhonda M. Smith on May 5th, 2012
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As I’m sure you can imagine, I was totally surprised to discover in my research that, according to HealthDay News, a new study reveals that female cancer survivors are more likely to smoke and have other unhealthy behaviors than women who have never had cancer.

In the study, researchers compared nearly 20,000 women age 35 and older with no history of cancer to more than 2,700 female cancer survivors. Both groups were undergoing mammography screening for breast cancer.  The cancer survivors aged 30 to 49 had higher rates of smoking than women with no cancer history. Cancer survivors were also less likely to engage in strenuous exercise, and were more likely to rate their health as “poor.”

Unbelievable! How and why is that the case?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t determine from the information I found the reasons why the women in the study had such poor health habits.  Regardless, this information reinforces the need to educate survivors on the importance of practicing healthy lifestyle habits and behaviors and the impact on their risk of recurrence.

So, let’s use this as a “teachable” moment.  After all, my breast cancer experience was a big wake up call for me, why not for the women in this study?

Now that I am on a mission is to educate, enlighten and empower breast cancer survivors to make their health and wellness a priority after treatment, I know how important it is for us to take action on the factors we can control to help us stay healthy and remain cancer-free.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is important for breast cancer survivors post-treatment, and should be a priority. If we don’t, then in addition to a cancer recurrence, we may be at increased risk for developing other medical problems, such as cardiac or pulmonary disease, as a result of our cancer treatment. So, lifestyle factors, such as nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation, are critical habits to adopt after treatment as they may reduce our risk of recurrence.

In terms of nutrition and exercise, it helps us reduce our risk of breast cancer recurrence by minimizing weight gain and our Body Mass Index (BMI).

While there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, evidence points to the fact that we can reduce our risk of recurrence by maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes reducing alcohol intake, engaging in regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight.  These risk factors are controllable, modifiable, and are changeable, and directly relate to lifestyle choices.

So, let’s “exercise” our choices. What a better way to recover, restore and reenergize your life after breast cancer!

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