You might be able to find help fighting breast cancer and other types of cancers at your local grocery store and fitness centers, according to the research findings of Dr. Marian Neuhouser, Ph.D, RD.
Neuhouser, a nutritional epidemiologist with a background in nutritional sciences and an investigator at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has found that for postmenopausal women in particular, being overweight or obese may increase the risk for breast cancer.
Her research is focused on lifestyle factors such as nutrition and physical activity, factors which may prevent breast and prostate cancer and improve survivorship in those diagnosed with cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer. More than 40,000 American women will die from the disease.
“After menopause, estrogens are synthesized by adipose tissue—the more adipose a woman has, the more estrogen she will make. Adipose cells also synthesize inflammatory factors, which have been linked to breast cancer," Neuhouser said.
One of the most important things a woman at risk for breast cancer can do, says Dr. Neuhouser, is to “maintain a healthy weight."
“One of the most important things is that if a woman is overweight or obese, she should be advised to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Daily physical activity and following healthy eating habits with plentiful fruits and vegetables and minimal empty calories and fried foods will help achieve these goals," Neuhouser said.
She said while it can be challenging to lose weight, “Small changes can add up and make a big difference."
When it comes to getting active, Dr. Neuhouser says, "If someone is not used to physical activity, try a five to 10 minute walk and gradually increase the time. Having physical activity partners or walking partners always helps. I know my soccer team will be waiting for me on the field, so even if I am tired or busy, I still show up."
"Mommy Bootcamp" fitness classes have three locations in the area, including in Sterling at the Dulles Town Center; in Tysons Corner; and at The Box Inline Hockey Arena in Chantilly. You can access more fitness resources here, or, check our directory for more gyms and studios.
When it comes to food, Dr. Neuhouser says, "Start with making one new food change each week. Instead of eating two cookies, eat just one.”
If you are concerned about your weight, Dr. Neuhouser suggests getting the support you need by asking your doctor for “ a referral to a reputable weight loss program.”
For nutrition advice, Dr. Neuhouser recommends asking for a referral to a registered dietitian.
Loudoun County Weight Loss resources: Click here.
Registerd Dietitians: Click here.