A healthy lifestyle for a cancer-free life

A healthy lifestyle for a cancer-free life

The lifestyle you follow can either be a cause of breast cancer or may prevent breast cancer. So, adopt a healthy lifestyle today to live a healthy and wealthy life. After all, it’s never too late.

 As stated by Globocan 2018 data, breast cancer is found to be the most commonly occurring cancer in the world. As per the report, the incidence rate of breast cancer in women were found to be 24.7%. While the mortality rate accounts 13.4%. In India, breast cancer has ranked the number one cancer among Indian females in terms of incidence, mortality and prevalence. According to this report, around 15.62% of new cases of breast cancer were registered in the Indian segment. Whereas death due to breast cancer reported in 2018 were 12.19%.   

 In Indian female, the incidence rate commences in the early thirties and reach its highest point at ages between 50-64 (National Cancer Registry Programme). Apart from this, about 1 in 28 women probably develop breast cancer during her lifespan. The risk of developing breast cancer is higher in urban sections i.e. 1 in 22 women than in rural sections which is 1 in 60 women ( Chaurasia & Pal, 2014). It is the second leading cause of cancer death among women (Sun et al, 2017). 

 Risk Factors

 The growth of cancer takes place when the cell’s DNA is damaged. It is still unspecified why and how DNA becomes damaged. There may be more than one reason for its occurrence like genetic or environmental or may be a combination of the two. In most cases, patients do not know about what caused their cancer (National Breast Cancer Foundation). 

Risk factors that cannot be changed

Risk factors that can be changed


Lack of Physical Activity


Improper Diet

Family History

Overweight or Obesity

Early Menstruation

Alcohol Consumption

Late Menopause i.e after 55

Radiation Therapy to the Chest

Personal Health History

Combined Hormonal Replacement Therapy

  Signs and Symptoms of breast Cancer

 It is important to examine your breast routinely. Early diagnosis could help in preventing or curing this deadly cancer. Different people have different symptoms. Moreover, certain people do not experience any sign or symptom. There are some common sign and symptoms which people may experience are mentioned below (CDC, 2018):

  • Formation of a new lump in the breast or armpit
  • Pain in any area of the breast
  • A Change in the shape or size of the breast
  • Liquid discharge from nipples like blood
  • Puckering or dimpling of breast skin
  • Thickening or swelling of the breast

 A Healthy Way of Living for Breast Cancer patients and survivors

 Breast cancer can be prevented by adopting novel approaches that help in leading a healthy life. Certain healthy habits may lower the risk of recurrence of breast cancer and improve the survival rate as well. Along with medical treatment, a well-balanced way of living could helps in curing and preventing the diseases. This is not only a way of prevention for cancer but all the diseases.  Healthy living includes:

  • Keep Bodyweight Within Range

 It is observed that overweight or obesity increases the risk of breast cancer. Certain studies also revealed that low physical activity and BMI above 25 kg/m2 are correlated with pathogenesis of breast cancer. Insulin is considered as a major key player between obesity and cancer. Alongside, the diagnosis of breast cancer in an obese patient can be delayed as they tend to have non-palpable tumours which worsen the treatment (Mazur-Roszak et al, 2010).

 Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the important step for prevention, progression and protection of breast cancer.

  • Consume a Well- balanced Diet

 Eating healthy is one of the crucial steps to lead a disease free life. However, in the case of breast cancer patients, every single step is important because any kind of negligence may be dangerous for their health. That's why patients and their family members should be aware of their eating habits. Follow a well-balanced nutritious diet could minimise the incidence of breast cancer as well as the risk of progression or recurrence of breast cancer. 

  • Consume at least five-six portions of colourful fruits and vegetables
  • Increase the intake of whole grain cereals while reducing the intake of refined and sugary foods
  • Limit fat consumption to less than 30% of calories and add good fat
  • Include low-fat dairy products
  • Consume beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins. Eat at least two portions of fish every week.
  • Reduce the intake of cured, pickled and smoked foods
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight

 Fig.1: Food Guide Pyramid 

 Consume Antioxidants Rich Foods

 Antioxidants are the chemical compounds that help in neutralising free radicals thus prevent cancer or other related diseases. These free radical are the main culprit which cause DNA Damage or mutation. The body synthesises certain antioxidants (like glutathione, superoxide dismutase, etc.) which have the ability of scavenging free radicals produced in the body. However, antioxidants from dietary sources are also important as our body also relies on external sources. Grains, certain fruits and vegetables are rich sources of dietary antioxidants. Several micronutrients found in foods possess antioxidant properties such as selenium, vitamin A, E, C, beta carotene, lycopene. A study displayed that supplementation with zinc and several vitamins like vitamin C, E, beta carotene in postmenopausal women for more than 10 years may protect women from developing breast cancer (Pan et al, 2011).

 Phytochemicals present in the fruits and vegetables also possesses antioxidant activity which helps in fighting cancer. Table 1 indicates some of the phytochemicals and their food sources.

Table: Phytochemicals and Food Sources

 Incorporate Dietary Fibre in the meal

 Fibre rich diet may help in reducing the risk of cancer or cancer progression.  As they have the ability to bind toxic and carcinogenic compounds, which are then removed from the body. Daily diet should provide both soluble and insoluble fibres within range i.e. 25-30g Therefore, always add more plant-based foods for example oats, lentils, black beans, pulses and other whole grain cereals.

 Limit Fat Intake

1.  Increase the intake of fish, poultry and other vegetable oils as they are high in essential fatty acids i.e. omega 3, omega 9 and omega 6 fatty acids. Research showed that consuming fish thrice a week might reduce the risk of breast cancer or inhibit breast tumour growth.

2. Limit the consumption of high saturated fat foods (organ meats, cream, butter, etc).

3. Try to avoid foods high in trans fatty acids like baked products, margarine, chips and biscuits.

Follow a Daily Exercise Regimen

 Physically active people are less prone to diseases like cancer. As daily exercise helps in maintaining the healthy weight which in turn reduces the risk or incidence of breast cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases as well. Being obese or overweight expose people to various cancers.  So, try to include any physical activity as a part of your daily regime for example walking, taking stairs instead of an elevator, etc. Exercise not only helps in reducing cancer risk but keeps you fit both mentally and physically. Other benefits that exercise proffers are: 

  • Sound sleep
  • Improved energy
  • Minimise the risk of commonly occurring health problems like high blood pressure, type2 diabetes, heart diseases
  • Enhanced mood
  • Improved sexual functioning

 Limit Alcohol Intake

 An array of studies have indicated that alcohol intake is directly associated with the increased risk of breast cancer. According to dietary guidelines women consume no more than one drink per day. But in the case of breast cancer patients, alcohol is a poison so avoiding alcohol is a good option. 

 Withal, it is assured that everything within limits or in balanced amount proffer you a healthy life. While unbalance way of living may expose you to some health disorders. Any kind of ignorance related to health could have a detrimental effect on the body. Therefore, early diagnosis of breast cancer helps in curing and increasing the survival rate of patients, also help in recovery.


  • National Cancer Registry Programme. 2001. Consolidated report of the population based cancer registries1990-1996. New Delhi: Indian Council of Medical Research. 
  • Chaurasia, V., Pal, S. 2014. A Novel Approach for Breast Cancer Detection using Data Mining Techniques. International Journal of Innovative Research in Computer and Communication Engineering, 2(1), 2456-65.
  • Sun, Y. S., Zhao, Z., Yang, Z. N., Xu, F., Lu, H. J., Zhu, Z. Y., Shi, W., Jiang, J., Yao, P. P.,  Zhu, H. P. (2017). Risk Factors and Preventions of Breast Cancer. International journal of biological sciences, 13(11), 1387-1397
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2018. What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
  • Mazur-Roszak, M., Litwiniuk, M., & Grodecka-Gazdecka, S. (2010). Obesity and breast cancer. Contemporary Oncology/Współczesna Onkologia, 14(4), 270-275.
  • Li, Y., Zhang, T., Korkaya, H., Liu, S., Lee, H. F., Newman, B., Yu, Y., Clouthier, S. G., Schwartz, S. J., Wicha, M. S., Sun, D. (2010). Sulforaphane, a dietary component of broccoli/broccoli sprouts, inhibits breast cancer stem cells. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 16(9), 2580-90. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  • Murillo, G., Mehta, R. (2001). Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention. Nutrition and cancer, 41, 17-28.
  • Pan, S. Y., Zhou, J., Gibbons, L., Morrison, H., Wen, S. W., Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group [CCRERG] (2011). Antioxidants and breast cancer risk- a population-based case-control study in Canada. BMC cancer, 11, 372. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/


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