Healthy lifestyle improves chemotherapy outcomes in breast cancer, study finds

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A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has revealed that a targeted diet and exercise program can significantly benefit women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.

The research, led by Tara Sanft, an associate professor of medicine at Yale University, aimed to improve the completion rates of chemotherapy by combating side effects through lifestyle interventions.

Many breast cancer patients struggle to complete their chemotherapy due to adverse side effects. Sanft points out that women often express a need for better tools to manage issues like fatigue and weight gain associated with chemotherapy.

To address this, the study introduced interventions focusing on dietary and physical activity guidelines to fight chemotoxicity and encourage adherence to therapy.

Participants who received this intervention, including regular counseling sessions, reported significant improvements in exercise and fruit and vegetable intake.

While the relative dose intensity (RDI), which measures chemotherapy completion, didn’t show a significant increase, an unexpected and exciting finding emerged.

The intervention group saw a 53% rate of pathologic complete response (PCR), meaning all invasive cancer cells in the breast disappeared. This was a notable contrast to the 28% in the control group.

Senior author Melinda Irwin, a member of Yale Cancer Center and associate dean of research at Yale School of Public Health, suggests that further investigation is needed to understand this outcome fully.

There’s a possibility that diet and exercise could influence chemotherapy results beyond just the amount of treatment completed.

This study demonstrates that adopting healthier habits during cancer treatment is feasible, even for those who did not have such habits before their diagnosis. Sanft emphasizes that it’s never “too late” for oncologists to recommend healthy behaviors to their patients.

The research team highlights the potential of lifestyle changes in enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

This study not only offers new hope for improving breast cancer treatment outcomes but also underlines the importance of holistic care approaches in oncology.

If you care about breast cancer, please read studies about a major cause of deadly breast cancer, and common blood pressure drugs may increase death risk in breast cancer.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies that new cancer treatment could reawaken the immune system, and results showing vitamin D can cut cancer death risk.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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