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Healthy Weight and Breast Cancer

Keeping a healthy weight is vital for everyone, especially breast cancer survivors.
PUBLISHED May 06, 2018
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
Summer is almost here, and soon the warm weather will be cause for a change in wardrobe. As temperatures rise, so do the length of pants and skirts. More and more skin will be exposed as people begin to get out and become more active.

Summer seems to cause many of us to become more health conscious. Gyms are busier than ever this time of year as those who love the outdoors work at keeping their bodies strong by adding more exercise to their daily regimen. Along with exercise, health-conscious individuals are also taking a closer look at their diets. Perhaps a new bathing suit for an upcoming vacation is the motivating factor, but summer isn't the only time of year weight should be an important consideration, especially for those affected by breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, "the number of Americans who are overweight or obese (very overweight) has been rising. About 1 in 3 American adults is now obese, and another 1 in 3 is overweight." Being overweight or obese can lead to many dangerous health issues including but not limited to:
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes (type 2 or adult-onset diabetes)
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Sleep and breathing problems
  • Arthritis
  • Some forms of cancer
The ACS also says, "Overweight and obese people, on average, do not live as long as people who stay at a healthy body weight throughout their lives. Not only are more adults overweight or obese, but more children are, too. Among children and teens, about 17 percent are now obese. This number is about three times higher than it was a few decades ago, although it has leveled off in recent years." Those are scary statistics!

Excess weight can pose a health risk factor for those who've had breast cancer, too, and those of us in this category need to be hyper focused. Whether you've been overweight since before diagnosis or you've gained weight since treatments, carrying excess body fat is risky.

In an online article posted by Weight Watchers, Dr. Cheryl Rock, Ph.D., with the University of California and a researcher studying breast cancer survivors, says, "With breast cancer risk, it's the actual fat tissue we have to worry about. Excess fat may contain higher levels of estrogen," she says, "which could stimulate tumor growth. It also has increased levels of other hormones and inflammatory molecules that may be associated with breast cancer."

Along with the health risks extra weight presents, there are also issues with body image and self-esteem. These can be compounded especially in the life of one already struggling in that area, like many breast cancer survivors.

Most of us know it's important to maintain a healthy weight and to do so, we have to not only watch what we eat but move more, too. If you're one of the 1 in 3 who are either overweight or obese, maybe it's time to do something productive about your health.

One of the best ways to begin any weight loss program is to step on the scale. Facing the reality of your current weight can not only help you understand there's a problem but can also provide the will power to implement a solution. The CDC offers valuable information regarding body mass index and weight limits on their website.

Before beginning any weight loss plan, you should consult your doctor. Follow the advice from your physician on finding a realistic program that will work for you. Your doctor will take into consideration your current health issues, medications, and any other areas of concern.

For the breast cancer patient in active treatment, it's important to talk with your doctor about your situation. It may be best to wait to start a weight loss program after treatments are completed. Some chemotherapies and medications like Tamoxifen can cause unwanted weight gain. Your doctor will help you decide when and how to proceed.

Successful weight loss can be achieved with determination and diligence. Eating less and moving more will help boost metabolism. Drinking plenty of water, watching excess salt and sugar intake, and reducing fat are also important ways to better your daily diet.

Maintaining optimal health by reducing body fat is vital to living your best life. Enlisting the help of family and friends is an important way you can succeed and hopefully keep yourself free from a cancer recurrence.

 
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