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Dr. Ligibel on the Impact of Diet and Exercise on Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk

Jennifer Ligibel, MD
Published: Tuesday, Jul 31, 2018



Jennifer Ligibel, MD, senior physician, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses the impact of diet and exercise on the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Many studies show that women who are heavier after menopause have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. There are also data that suggest that women who exercise more have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. The dietary factors are less consistent, Ligibel says. There is a clear increased risk of breast cancer for women who consume high levels of alcohol, but there are no links in specific foods or dietary patterns and the development of breast cancer.

Most of the evidence evaluating the factors of diet and exercise in breast cancer focus on how they relate to the risk of recurrence. There is a lot of evidence that these factors continue to influence outcome after a patient has developed an early-stage, potentially curable breast cancer. Studies show that women who are obese when they are diagnosed with breast cancer have a 30% to 40% higher risk of dying from breast cancer, Ligibel says. Emerging data have suggested that physical activity may be protective after diagnosis, as women who regularly exercised had a lower risk of recurrence.


Jennifer Ligibel, MD, senior physician, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses the impact of diet and exercise on the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Many studies show that women who are heavier after menopause have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. There are also data that suggest that women who exercise more have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. The dietary factors are less consistent, Ligibel says. There is a clear increased risk of breast cancer for women who consume high levels of alcohol, but there are no links in specific foods or dietary patterns and the development of breast cancer.

Most of the evidence evaluating the factors of diet and exercise in breast cancer focus on how they relate to the risk of recurrence. There is a lot of evidence that these factors continue to influence outcome after a patient has developed an early-stage, potentially curable breast cancer. Studies show that women who are obese when they are diagnosed with breast cancer have a 30% to 40% higher risk of dying from breast cancer, Ligibel says. Emerging data have suggested that physical activity may be protective after diagnosis, as women who regularly exercised had a lower risk of recurrence.



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