The incidence rate is 65 new cases / 100,000 inhabitants / year, which means that about 22,000 women are diagnosed in Spain every year. These figures, together with the annual reduction of the mortality rate by 2-3%, make it a very prevalent disease, ie the diagnosed cases are very numerous in our society, making this disease a health and social problem of the first magnitude.
Risk factors that have been associated with an increased number of new cases are age (the highest peak incidence is concentrated between 45 and 65 years), obesity, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, having the first child at a later age and some others such as genetic factors affecting a minority of women (around 5-10% of cases).
In the area of prevention, we can talk about two key guidelines that can reduce the risk of breast cancer, or to improve its evolution in the case of suffering from it: exercise and nutrition.
Physical exercise has been shown to improve the development of long-term patients, and improve tolerance to chemotherapy and hormone treatments. Exercise can be classified in endurance exercise, which is one that is practiced continuously by scrolling to improve cardiovascular capacity (cycling, walking, running, dancing); and toning exercise or using your weight force (static) or an external weight to build muscle. Both types of exercise are very beneficial for patients, especially if done on a cumulative basis in sessions of at least 15 minutes for a total time of at least 150 minutes a week (distributed, for example, in three days of exercise resistance toning and 2 days).
• There are some myths in breast cancer. In patients affected by lymph edema in the arm, it is recommended arm stretching exercises (to increase muscle elasticity and extensibility), using light toning to favor the deep lymphatic drainage system.
• Other myths are relative to exercise and presence of bone metastases. It is also recommended toning exercise and moderate intensity resistance (about 120 beats per minute) avoiding ground impacts or risking falls (eg elliptical or bike exercise instead of running). Exercise also helps improve osteoporosis, present in over 70% of our patients through toning and resistance to balance bone metabolism and regenerate bone mass. Caution with advanced osteoporosis, falls can cause pathological fractures.
• Finally, A situation very common in cancer: chronic fatigue or asthenia. It is a state of general fatigue maintained over time unrelated to previous efforts, which does not go away with rest. Paradoxically, this situation is much improved with regular exercise, especially resistance toning and high intensity (150 beats per minute), increasing muscle mass and cardiopulmonary capacity should gradually start to avoid injury.
Learning to eat well with a balanced diet is to gain health. To ensure the proper functioning of the body, a varied diet is essential to prevent nutritional deficiencies; you must avoid the “diet” based on one or two food groups that can generate serious problems in our body. Carbohydrates are primarily energy, proteins are structural components, fats are structural and energetic nutrients, and vitamins and minerals have a structural and regulatory function. Therefore, a good diet should include at each meal the necessary amount of all of them.
Again, there are myths about diet and breast cancer that should be clarified:
• Red meat: No conclusive data that red meat increases the risk of breast cancer, grilled or stewed is recommended… Served moderately, between 1-3 servings per week.
• Soy: Is not banned the dietary intake in small quantities (milk, oil) is not recommended for ingestion as tablets or formulations in high quantities.
• Dairy: There is some information on the role of calcium and vitamin D and reduced risk of cancer, to avoid those prepared rich in sugars and fats.
• Dietary Supplements: Not recommended for the prevention or treatment of breast cancer. There is no better supplement than a varied diet based on our Mediterranean diet.
•Sweeteners: We have not confirmed the alleged carcinogenic effect of sweeteners, especially taken in minimal quantities as regulated by law
• The extra virgin olive oil: It is a good ally in our diet; there is some evidence of preventive effect on the development of breast cancer and other tumors.
• Refined sugars: We must avoid if possible. Its intake is associated with overweight, obesity and risk factors (inflammatory conditions of the body) associated with the development of cancer in general.
In short, a healthy lifestyle based on physical exercise and a typical Mediterranean diet of our country, can help prevent the development of cancer in the population, and reduce the risk of relapse of existing tumors in our patients. These basic standards are essential to feeling good and know that we are doing the best for our health.
Dra. Eva Ciruelos
Oncologist at the Breast Cancer Unit of Hospital 12 de Octubre (Madrid)
Associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the Complutense University of Madrid
October 19, 2015
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