nosh magazine (issue 3) - Page 9

nosh magazine NUTRITION AND BREAST CANCER One in eight women will develop breast cancer before the age of 85, which means you will likely meet or know someone with breast cancer. Nutrition expert Tanya King provides information about breast cancer and nutrition. urgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be an extremely tough time. Once finished however, appointments with health professionals aren’t as regular and staying cancer-free becomes an important priority for many women. As such, dietitians, exercise physiologists, personal trainers, and other health professionals are often approached to help improve wellbeing, fitness, physique and/or reduce the ongoing side effects of treatment. As the Senior Oncology Dietitian at Coastal Cancer Care and Oceania Oncology Sunshine Coast, every day women with breast cancer ask me questions about nutrition. Research on how to improve survival through diet and lifestyle is limited, but emerging. Current research published by the World Cancer Research Fund does suggest a link between better survival rates after breast cancer and the following factors: S • • • • Maintaining a healthy body weight: Being overweight is related to a higher Additional resources • Breast Cancer Network Australia: • Cancer Council Australia: • World Cancer Research Fund: • American Institute for Cancer Research: • Cancer myth busting: • National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health: • Calculate your risk: affected-cancer/cancer-types/ breast-cancer/your-risk/calculate • mortality risk. It can also increase the risk of developing other cancers. Maintaining a healthy body weight is, therefore, important for all women – even those without a diagnosis. Being physically active: regular exercise helps to improve physical and emotional health, as well as overall quality of life. It also helps with weight management, depression and anxiety, muscle strength and the physical side effects of treatment like pain, fatigue, lymphoedema, and reduced bone mineral density. Eating foods containing fibre: a higher intake of foods containing fibre, before and 12 months after a diagnosis of breast cancer, may reduce the risk of all causes of death. Moderating the intake of foods containing soy: there is a theoretical risk that phyto-oestrogens could stimulate the growth of hormone sensitive cancers, so moderation of soy intake is recommended. The Cancer Council does not recommend or support the use of phyto-oestrogen supplements for breast cancer survivors. A lower intake of fat, especially saturated fat: research reported in late 2014 suggested a low fat diet may reduce the risk of dying by 36 per cent, particularly in women with nonhormone related cancers (e.g. oestrogen receptor negative). The benefit was even greater – 54 per cent reduction in deaths among women with oestrogen receptor and progesterone receptor negative cancers. Although it’s still not clear if total fat intake affects cancer outcomes, the effect of lowering fat intake on inflammation, weight loss, and overweight/obesity cannot be discounted. • Reducing alcohol intake: unlike cardiovascular disease, there are no protective effects of drinking alcohol on cancer. Cancer Council Australia recommends people avoid drinking alcohol or follow NHMRC guidelines if they choose to drink (e.g. no more than two standard drinks on any one day, and no more than four standard drinks on one occasion). Food and nutrition is only one element of a number of areas that women with breast cancer need to be mindful of. Because many women are now presenting overweight, nutrition issues are often overlooked and under-treated. Historically, nutrition support is targeted to the malnourished cancer patient; fortunately, this appears to be changing. Currently, research is exploring the impact of vitamin D, omega-3 fish oils, complementary and alternative therapies, body image, mental health, and exercise and nutrition interventions. Of course, advice must be tailored according to the type of breast cancer and if it has spread to other parts of the body (e.g. bone, lung), previous treatment and side effects (e.g. radiotherapy, chemotherapy), other medical conditions, age, menopause status, and ongoing treatment (e.g. hormone therapy). N Tanya King, APD Learn more about Tanya: website | profile Tanya is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and is currently the Senior Oncology Dietitian at Coastal Cancer Care and Oceania Oncology Sunshine Coast. With dual qualifications in exercise science and nutrition and dietetics she has developed specialist skills in supporting patients throughout the trajectory of cancer survivorship. 9