cancer prevention & Healthy Survivorship

American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)

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The AICR offers diet-specific guidelines for cancer prevention and healthy survivorship, 

with specific recommendations within each category: 

1) body weight (maintain a body weight within the normal weight range and if overweight, loose even a small amount of weight)

2) limit foods that promote weight gain (energy-dense foods and sugary drinks)

3) consume a variety of plants (minimum 5 servings fruits and vegetables; eat unprocessed grains and legumes)

4) limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat

5) limit alcohol intake

6) limit sodium consumption 

7) do not take supplements for cancer prevention

American Cancer Society (ACS)

                   

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life. 

  • Be as lean as possible throughout life without being underweight. 
  • Avoid excess weight gain at all ages. For those who are currently overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start. 
  • Engage in regular physical activity and limit consumption of high-calorie foods and beverages as key strategies for maintaining a healthy weight. 

                                          

Adopt a physically active lifestyle. 

  • Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or an equivalent combination, preferably spread throughout the week. 
  • Limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching television, or other forms of screen-based entertainment.   
  • Doing some physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one’s level of activity, can have many health benefits. 

  

                                                       

Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods. 

  • Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Limit consumption of processed meat and red meat. 
  • Eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day. 
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products. 

                                                                            

If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption. 

  • Drink no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men. 

                                                                                                                                                                           

risk reduction

Reasons to follow AICR and ACS recommendations

  • Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active could result in a 19-50% lower incidence of breast cancer 
  • For overweight and obese breast cancer survivors, modest and sustained weight loss also reduces risk of recurrence and risk of a new primary breast cancer 
  • Excess abdominal fat (fat around the middle of the body) and the body fat distribution are modifiers of breast cancers, especially among African American women 
  • Poor diets place breast cancer survivors at a higher risk for recurrence and of developing or worsening of other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes 
  • Positive lifestyle changes can ease the burden of cancer and improve breast cancer survivorship outcomes, including health-related quality of life    

Whole Grains

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Refined grains usually have the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Whole grain means that all three parts of the grain kernel (germ, bran and endosperm) are included. For example, white rice is a refined grain; brown rice and wild rice are whole grains. 


Other examples of whole-grain foods: 

  • Wheat breads, rolls, pasta and cereals 
  • Whole grain oat cereals such as oatmeal
  • Popcorn 
  • Tortilla and tortilla chips 
  • Corn
  • Quinoa 

Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and hundreds of natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals, which protect cells in the body from the types of damage that may lead to cancer. 


Research points to other substances in whole grains that have been linked to lower cancer risk: 


  • Antioxidants
  • Phenols  
  • Lignans (a kind of phytoestrogen)
  • Saponins

SMART Goals

Experts say efforts to make lifestyle changes are more likely to produce results if they are SMART — that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. To learn more, click on this link:  SMART Goal Fact Sheet on Whole Grains.

Tricks That Stick

You can make the changes necessary for a healthier life to reduce breast cancer recurrence. The strategies offered in the Consumer Publication section of the SISTAAH Talk website Publication page may help.  Download a fact sheet today

Fruits & Vegetables

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A diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk for many cancers. In some research studies, women who ate more fruits and vegetables had a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence.


Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals. They provide plants with color, odor, and flavor. Research shows they can influence the chemical processes inside our bodies in helpful ways.


Carotenoids may inhibit cancer cell growth, work as antioxidants, and improve immune response. Red, orange and green fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin. Foods high in carotenoids include:  


  • Broccoli 
  • Carrots 
  • Cooked tomatoes 
  • Leafy greens 
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash 
  • Apricots 
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Oranges  
  • Watermelon


Flavonoids may inhibit inflammation and tumor growth, aid immunity, and boost production of detoxifying enzymes in the body.  The best source of flavonoids include:


  • Apples 
  • Citrus fruits 
  • Onions 
  • Soybeans  
  • Soy products (tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.) 
  • Coffee  
  • Tea

Cruciferous Vegetables are rich in nutrients, including carotenoids; vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.  They contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables.  Examples of cruciferous vegetables:


  • Arugula
  • Bok choy  
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Collard greens
  • Horseradish
  • Kale  
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Watercress
  • Wasabi

SMART Goals

Experts say efforts to make lifestyle changes are more likely to produce results if they are SMART — that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.   To learn more, click on this link:  SMART Goal Fact Sheet on Fruits and Vegetables.

Tricks That Stick

You can make the changes necessary for a healthier life to reduce breast cancer recurrence. The strategies offered in the Consumer Publication section of the SISTAAH Talk website Publication page may help. Download a fact sheet today

Portion & Weight Control

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The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition, and could be prevented.  These factors may contribute to cancer risk, but body weight seems to have the strongest link to cancer.   


Excess body weight contributes to as many as 1 out of 5 of all cancer-related deaths.  Being overweight or obese is clearly linked with an increased risk of many cancers, including breast cancer. Evidence suggests that being overweight or obese raises the risk of cancer coming back after treatment and may lower the chances of survival for breast cancer.  


The best way to stay at a healthy body weight is to balance how much you eat with how active you are. The best way to get to a healthy body weight is to limit the calories you take in, and burn more calories through physical activity. 


Here are a few useful strategies:


  • Eating smaller amounts of food (smaller portion sizes) 
  • Limiting between-meal snacks
  • Limiting foods and drinks that are high in calories, fat, and/or added sugars, and that provide few nutrients.  
  • Replacing fried foods, cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream, and regular soft drinks with vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, and lower calorie beverages

Red & Processed Meats

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In some studies, a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products has also been linked with a lower risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.  


Red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meat (ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, hot dogs and sausages) may contribute to cancer. Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat less plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties. When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances can form. These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer.  Here’s what you need to know:  

  • Processed meats have been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes.   
  • Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but they may also contain poultry or meat by-products such as blood.  
  • High-temperature cooking methods generate compounds that may contribute to cancer risk.  
  • Cooking at high temperatures or with the food in direct contact with a flame or a hot surface, as in barbecuing or pan-frying, produces cancer-causing substances. 

SMART Goals

Experts say efforts to make lifestyle changes are more likely to produce results if they are SMART — that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.  To learn more, click on this link:  SMART Goal Fact Sheet on Red & Processed Meats.

Tricks That Stick

You can make the changes necessary for a healthier life to reduce breast cancer recurrence. The strategies offered in the Consumer Publication section of the SISTAAH Talk website Publication page may help.  Download a fact sheet today

Physical Activity

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For premenopausal and post menopausal women, studies show that physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer than inactive women, with an average breast cancer risk reduction of 12%.   


For breast cancer survivors, exercise can:

  1. Lower the levels of hormones, such as insulin and estrogen, and of certain growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression. 
  2. Help to prevent obesity and decreasing the harmful effects of obesity, particularly the development of insulin resistance (failure of the body's cells to respond to insulin). 
  3. Reduce inflammation. 
  4. Improve immune system function.  

Physical activity is any movement that uses skeletal muscles and requires more energy than does resting, like: 

  • Working 
  • Exercising 
  • Performing household chores
  • Walking 
  • Tennis
  • Hiking 
  • Bicycling 
  • Swimming

Alcohol Maintenance

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.Alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol) is a chemical substance found in beer, wine, and liquor produced by the fermentation of sugars and starches by yeast. Research indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—especially over time—the higher the risk of developing breast cancer. Women who drink more than three drinks a day have 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer as nondrinkers.  


The main types of alcoholic drinks and their alcohol content are as follows:

  • Beers and hard ciders: 3-7 percent alcohol
  • Wines, including sake: 9-15 percent alcohol
  • Wines fortified with liquors, such as port: 16-20 percent alcohol
  • Liquor, or distilled spirits, such as gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey, which are produced by distilling the alcohol from fermented grains, fruits, or vegetables: usually 35-40 percent alcohol (70-80 proof), but can be higher

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard alcoholic drink in the United States contains 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces or a "shot" of 80-proof liquor

SMART Goals

Experts say efforts to make lifestyle changes are more likely to produce results if they are SMART — that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.  To learn more, click on this link:  SMART Goal Fact Sheet on Alcohol.

Lifestyle Tips

We asked African American women to identify their top 10 strategies to reduce cancer risk, and here is what they told us: 


1. What is “Down Home Healthy Living?” (Go to our Publication page to download the cookbook)

  • Selecting a nutritious diet and exercising regularly to lower your chances of getting cancer. 

2. Why is a healthy lifestyle so important? 

  • You will live longer, reduce the need for medication and feel better. 
  • If you are at risk for cancers like colorectal and breast cancer, eating better and exercising lowers that risk. 

3. How can you maintain a healthy weight? 

  • Limit portion sizes, select healthy foods, avoid fried, fatty foods and be physically active. 

4. What advice do you have for eating less high fat foods? 

  • Check food labels, make a food plan and watch how much you eat by monitoring portion sizes. 

5. What are the best ways to prepare healthy meals? 

  • Put away the deep fryer and bake, roast, broil, boil, steam, grill, stir-fry or sauté instead. 

6. What are alternatives to salt? 

  • Try using lemon or lime, fresh and dried herbs, spices and other salt-free seasonings. 

7. Why is physical activity important? 

  • It is good for your heart. 
  • Walking is best because it burns calories and can help you loose weight.

8. Which physical activities do you recommend? 

  • Easy exercises, like walking, dancing, yoga and lifting weights, are a few examples. 
  • Everyday activities, such as walking to the store, cleaning house (using the broom instead of the vacuum) and hanging out clothes, count too. 

9. What are strategies to help you enjoy physical activity? 

  • Exercising with a partner, self-talk (motivation), setting a goal and monitoring progress and making it fun were the most common recommendations. 

10. What are health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables?

  • Promotes good digestion, protects against cancer and strengthens your immune system.