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.
Dr. Neuhouser is a nutritional epidemiologist with a background in nutritional sciences. She is an investigator at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her research is focused on lifestyle factors such as nutrition and physical activity. Some factors 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 and more than 40,000 American women will die from the disease.
Dr. Neuhouser’s research has found that for postmenopausal women in particular, being overweight or obese may increase the risk for breast cancer.
Dr. Neuhouser explains, “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.”
One of the most important things a woman at risk for breast cancer can do, says Dr. Neuhouser, is to “maintain a healthy weight."
Given what the research indicates, Dr. Neuhouser says, “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.”
Dr. Neuhouser says 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 ten 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."
The Fit Potato has several programs designed for anyone who wants to to start working out more. Personal trainers are available to help with beginners just wanting to delve into a more active lifestyle — this includes exercise programs, running help, or boot camps if you want more of a group setting. The website even has some core workouts you can try on your own at home.
Meetup.com and Fleet Feet are great resources for finding workout groups that fit your needs. The Meetup website boasts a variety of workout groups from walking, mom groups, 30 somethings, to beginners. The good thing about finding a group online to join is there is no commitment if you don't like it and you can join other groups. By joining a group, you also get the chance to explore different fitness activities minus the sign-up fees.
Fleet Feet in Pleasanton has weekly runs and walks with their group called the "Huffers and Puffers" during the week and welcomes all levels. This is a great way to get moving and the instructors are knowledgeable on the clothes and shoes you wear and how that affects your walking or running style. The runs/walk schedule is available online.
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.
Locally, you can find support managing your weight through dieticians and nutritionists who can give you the tools to achieve your weight loss goals.
WeightWatchers is a program designed to help you maintain great eating habits and learn more about the food you eat over a consistent period of time. There are locations within the Tri-Valley and meetings that take place weekly as check ins for your progress. Although there are fees for joining the Weightwatchers program, the eating habits you'll learn will stay with you forever so the investment is ongoing.
Linda Michaelis is a registered dietician who services anyone living in Alameda County and beyond. She provides services such as health counseling, customized shopping lists, and eating plans. Having a personal nutritionist can be good if you have intitial questions and concerns about how to begin eating better and losing weight. Most of Linda's services are covered by your insurance.
Another local nutritionist, Jill Daniels uses methods like medical nutrition therapy, nutrition education, and the no-diet approach to weight loss. Daniels' personalized plans come with guidance, support, and accountability. She specializes in Weight Management, Sports Nutrition and Wellness/Healing/Prevention. She serves all areas within the Tri-Valley and has an additional office located at Velocity Sports Performance. More information on how she can help you improve your relationship with food, give you more energy, and manage your weight better, can be found on her website.