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Breast Cancer Health Center

Exercise and Nutrition After Breast Cancer Surgery

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Breast Cancer: A Lifelong Anti-Cancer Diet

Here are some guidelines you can use for planning an anti-cancer diet. You might also want to talk with a registered dietitian. The dietitian can give you advice on the best diet and nutrition plan for you.

  • Eat low-fat protein, such as roasted chicken and baked fish, rather than steak, duck, sausages, or other high-fat meats.
  • Eat five servings of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Avoid processed meats linked to cancer. These include bacon, bologna, hot dogs, ham, and smoked meats.
  • Eat whole-grain foods like whole-grain bread and brown rice, rather than white bread and white rice.
  • Cut back on alcohol. Limit yourself to one to two drinks a day.

Talk to your doctor about any diet changes you're making, especially when recovering from surgery or when getting chemotherapy. You do not want to starve your body of important nutrients that it needs to recover.

Exercise After Breast Cancer Surgery

Exercise improves your self-esteem, mood, and well-being. Exercise after breast cancer surgery is no exception. And studies have shown a link between being overweight and breast cancer recurrence. So losing weight through exercise may help you restore your health and improve your chances of avoiding more cancer.

Fatigue often lingers after surgery. It may be worse if you've also had chemotherapy and radiation. Still, most experts say some form of regular exercise is good, even if you start with short walks around the block. Exercise can boost your energy. And exercise after breast cancer surgery may lower the risk of cancer recurrence.

Breast Cancer: Goals for Exercise

1. Talk with your doctor before starting.

For the first days and weeks after breast cancer surgery, focus on protecting your incision. Also focus on protecting any other tender areas from bumping and bruising. Don't carry heavy things like children or groceries. Once your doctor says you can start exercising, start slowly and carefully. Think about seeing a physical therapist experienced with breast cancer. A therapist can help you improve your range of motion, strength, and flexibility in the affected arm and shoulder after surgery.

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