This is a great time to start looking at the benefits for lifestyle modification in both prevention and in active treatment of breast cancer. We will add a new TIP each week for a different lifestyle intervention. Many of the benefits are related to their roles in lowering inflammation, reducing stress and improved hormone balance.
Let’s look at exercise. Studies in primary prevention show that moderate to vigorous exercise showed benefit in risk reduction for breast cancer versus those who had a sedentary lifestyle. The benefit of exercise in breast cancer has been attributed to it not only getting people to their goal weight, reducing fat percentage but also its positive effect on the inflammation cascade. Exercise has been shown to decrease pro-inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines called IL-6 and increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10. These chemicals communicate with cells to signal the immune system to turn on or off inflammatory cascades.
Exercise also is beneficial in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. It has been shown that exercise can diminish the fatigue, improve mood and help with sleep promotion due to its effects on the neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. In addition, resistance exercise can assist prevention of muscle loss associated with chemotherapy.