Healthy lifestyle programs key to managing breast health

After completing active treatment for breast cancer, women may need to consider a number of important lifestyle changes to optimize their health and lower the risk of recurrence.

  • Oct. 22, 2008 7:00 p.m.

(NC)—After completing active treatment for breast cancer, women may need to consider a number of important lifestyle changes to optimize their health and lower the risk of recurrence.

At the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre, one of Canada’s most prominent treatment facilities at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, a new program is helping women do just that. Led by Nurse Clinician Linda Muraca, the Taking Charge: Healthy LIFEstyle Choices for Women after Breast Cancer program includes innovative sessions to educate women about healthier diet and physical activity choices and their impact on breast cancer recurrence.

“It appears that the balance of energy intake (diet) and energy output (physical activity) is disrupted in the period after a breast cancer diagnosis,” says Muraca. “The goal of the Taking Charge program is to teach women how to reach or maintain a healthy weight by making appropriate lifestyle choices. Improving breast cancer survivors’ overall general health by losing weight may have a positive impact on recurrence.”

In addition to nutrition and physical activity, women usually want to focus on goal setting, and appear to benefit from a peer-support group during the program.

While lifestyle modification discussions are essential for women with breast cancer, another important aspect is reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. Community-based initiatives such as the AstraZeneca Breast Health Program educate women without breast cancer on how to manage their risk. Nutritional strategies to promote breast health are also provided and commonly asked questions and myths are addressed. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the program has helped thousands of women, and has been recognized as a Leading Practice.

For more information visit www.mountsinai.on.ca/care/mkbc/ and click on Programs and Classes. Please also visit www.sharingstrength.ca to see if your local breast cancer chapter has similar support programs in your region.