Healthy lifestyle cuts breast cancer recurrence by nearly 40%: study

High-risk breast cancer patients who adhere to a healthy lifestyle as outlined by national guidelines have a 37 percent reduced risk of disease recurrence and a 58 percent lower death risk, according to new findings led by researchers at Buffalo, N.Y.-based Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The research was published May 4 in JAMA Network Open and is based on the time frame before diagnosis, during treatment and two years after treatment. The findings are based on a questionnaire completed by 1,340 patients with high-risk breast cancer.

Strong adherence to prevention recommendations from the American Cancer Society and the American Institute of Cancer Research — which include modifiable lifestyle factors such as not smoking, being physically active and limiting alcohol consumption — was linked to a significantly lower risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality, including among those with the most aggressive cancer subtypes. 

The smoking and physical activity recommendation were the two factors that contributed most to the correlation between the lifestyle index score and improved outcomes, researchers said. 

"The literature suggests that all these factors were associated with cancer risk, but until now we did not know whether they were also associated with improved survival outcomes in people who already have cancer," said Rikki Cannioto, PhD, EdD, lead study author and member of Roswell Park's department of cancer prevention and control.

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