Women diagnosed with breast cancer are encouraged to implement natural lifestyle changes to help improve their chances of recovery. One simple but efficient strategy is to start a regular exercise program. According to a new study, breast cancer patients who started exercising regularly after six months of diagnosis have lowered their chances of dying by up to 30 percent.
Dr. Joseph Mercola comments: “This is a radical departure from the now-outdated advice that cancer patients should rest and take it easy the way heart attack patients were treated fifty years ago.”
You Can Avoid Breast Cancer with Exercise
According to the researchers, breast cancer patients who exercised at least 2 ½ hours a week for 18 consecutive months helped themselves fight off the disease and improved their chances of survival. Better results were seen in individuals who exercised almost every day. (link)
Similar results were seen in an earlier study from Harvard Medical School. According to the researchers, breast cancer patients who had three to five hours of moderate exercise per week lowered their chances of dying by almost 50 percent, compared to sedentary women. (link)
“In fact, any amount of weekly exercise increased a patient’s odds of surviving breast cancer, and this held true regardless of whether women were diagnosed early on or after their cancer had spread,” says Dr. Mercola.
These new exercise recommendations were supported by Macmillan Cancer Support. According to Jane Maher, chief medical officer of Macmillan Cancer Support and clinical oncologist:
“The advice that I would have previously given to one of my patients would have been to ‘take it easy’. This has now changed significantly because of the recognition that if physical exercise were a drug, it would be hitting the headlines.” (link)
Why Does Exercise Help Fight and Prevent Cancer?
Exercise helps decrease your insulin receptor sensitivity and lowers your insulin and leptin levels, which are powerful ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Another beneficial effect of exercise is that it enhances apoptosis or programmed cell death, which increases the likelihood that cancer cells will die.
The circulation of immune cells in your blood and lymphatic system also improves with exercise. Immune cells are important in neutralizing pathogens and destroying precancerous cells throughout your body.
A study published in the British Medical Journal also explored the link between exercise and cancer, and found out that exercise affects biological processes that may directly influence your cancer risk. These include:
- Cardiovascular capacity
- Energy balance
- Pulmonary capacity
- Immune function
- Bowel motility
- Antioxidant defense
- Hormone levels
- DNA repair
Cancer Patients and Cancer-Free People Must Exercise
The researchers noted that there is growing evidence that physical activity plays an important role at all stages of cancer, whether before, during, or after the treatment.
A cancer diagnosis can be very physically and mentally exhausting, especially if you undergo conventional treatments like radiation or chemotherapy (which are NOT recommended by Dr. Mercola because of their dangerous side effects). Through exercise, you can lessen your symptoms and generally improve how you feel, so you can go back to your normal routine.
According to a MacMillan Cancer Support report, exercise may:
- Reduce fatigue and improve your energy levels
- Help manage your stress, anxiety, low mood, or depression
- Improve your bone and heart health (Chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy may give you heart problems later in life)
- Build muscle strength, relieve pain, and improve your range of movement
- Maintain your healthy weight
- Improve your appetite
- Help you sleep better
- Prevent constipation
However, it is important that you exercise even if you do not have cancer. “Exercise is one of the most powerful strategies available to reduce your cancer risk, so starting a program while you’re cancer-free should increase your chances of staying that way,” says Dr. Mercola.
Can a Shorter Exercise Routine Yield The Same Benefits?
Dr. Mercola adds that short, high-intensity exercises like Peak Fitness may yield better results. At least one hour of high intensity per week may give more benefits to cancer and non-cancer patients. In this one hour, warm up, recovery, and cool down are already included; the actual amount of high intensity exercise is only 12 minutes per week. The routine is efficient but attainable.
However, he reminds you to listen to your body at all times. You may need to exercise at a lower intensity or for shorter durations at times. If you need to take a break, then do so. If your immune system is already very weak, you may need to exercise at home instead of visiting a public gym.
Other Cancer Prevention Tips to Remember
If people made wiser lifestyle choices, at least 40 percent of U.S. breast cancer cases could be prevented. To help you avoid breast cancer, Dr. Mercola recommends these simple strategies:
- Eat healthy. Avoid processed foods and sugar, especially fructose. All types of sugar promote cancer. Instead, consume whole, organic foods and fresh vegetables.
- Get enough vitamin D. Deficiency in this nutrient may increase your chances of developing cancer. Optimize your vitamin D levels with adequate sun exposure, a safe tanning bed, or oral D3 supplementation.
- Get sufficient sleep. Ayurvedic medicine says the ideal sleep hours are between 10 pm and 6 am. As much as possible, sleep in complete darkness, so your body will produce melatonin, a natural cancer fighter.
- Address your stress. Your risk of contracting breast cancer becomes 12 times higher in the ensuing five years after experiencing a traumatic or highly stressful event.