Detecting & Living with Breast Cancer For Dummies
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Your body makes great efforts to fight off many diseases on its own, but it must have the right resources on its side to be able to do that. Poor nutrition reduces mental function and productivity as well as diminishes your body's immunity against diseases such as cancers.

When you are getting sufficient calories for energy and sufficient nutrients to support body function and growth, you can say you have good nutrition. Maintaining good nutrition and normal body function is a kind of balancing act. Your food must include a variety of fruits and vegetables, grains, fiber, protein with small amounts of fats, and lots of water to maintain good nutrition.

The best health outcomes occur when good nutrition is combined with regular physical activity. One hundred and fifty minutes of moderate exercise per week can lower your risk of breast cancer. No vigorous or intense exercises are needed to reduce your risk — if you walk for 30 minutes daily, your risk for breast cancer can reduce by 3 percent.

Exercise can keep you at your ideal weight. When you're overweight, you have more fat cells or adipose tissue, which can release high levels of estrogen into your body. In general, obesity increases women's risk for any hormone-related cancer such as breast and endometrial cancer. Men who are overweight have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Exercise is great for lowering insulin levels, hormones, and proteins (known as growth factors). Growth factors must be present for any cancer to grow.

Exercise reduces stress by releasing the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, the endorphins. More endorphins reduce the urges to smoke and drink alcohol, which reduces your overall risk of breast cancer. Researchers have found that high levels of stress can damage your immune system, which can increase your risk of developing cancer.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Marshalee George, PhD, is Faculty and Oncology Nurse Practitioner at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Division of Surgical Oncology at Johns Hopkins Breast Center.

Kimlin Tam Ashing, PhD, is Professor and Founding Director of City of Hope's Center of Community Alliance for Research and Education. Together they have over 40 years combined experience in treating breast cancer patients through diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and recurrent illness, as well as survivorship and follow-up care.

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