L39 — September 2011 — Weight Loss After Breast Cancer
Intro: A diagnosis of breast cancer can be very difficult. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and facing such a serious illness may make some women feel like they've lost control of their lives. Those feelings are very common. But the breast cancer survivor you're about to meet was able to get back into control. She made some lifestyle changes that not only made her lose weight and feel better, but they also reduced her risk of the cancer coming back.
It was very scary. I never thought I would ever hear the word "cancer."
But Teresa Narveson did get cancer. A diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer for which she had a lumpectomy and radiation. Then — more difficult news.
My primary care doctor said, "You're pre-diabetic with all your blood count numbers."
Over the years and during treatment, Teresa had put on weight.
I weighed 206 pounds at that time. I knew how to be active. I knew what things I should eat, but you know, you just kind of go with the flow. We just don't listen to ourselves about what we need to do.
But after having faced a potentially deadly disease and now a chronic one, Teresa made the change.
I chose to walk.
Every day. She didn't stop until more than 40 pounds were gone. Plus she made healthy food choices.
Fruit salad. A small, please.
The evidence is amazing for what weight loss and exercise has done to decrease breast cancer recurrence.
Dr. Sandhya Pruthi takes care of many women who have had breast cancer. She is past director of Mayo Clinic's Breast Diagnostic and Cancer Clinic. She says research shows that a majority of cancers are fueled by estrogen, and estrogen is synthesized in fat. So by losing weight, Teresa decreased her risk of her breast cancer coming back and she decreased her risk of developing a new breast cancer. For this reason and others, Dr. Pruthi recommends all her patients try to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
And if you're overweight, look at weight-loss programs or get into exercise programs. Talk to your doctor about what your healthy body mass index should be, and make the effort to do that because it's going to prevent not only heart disease and osteoporosis, but breast cancer.
So by losing weight, Teresa cut her risk of many diseases, including breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Losing weight will not reduce your risk of all cancers. But it will reduce your risk of many types of cancers. Plus it will make you healthier in general and improve quality of life.
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