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ASCO 2019: Impact of Diet & Exercise on Breast Cancer Risk

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Published on June 21, 2019

At the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, expert Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, joined Patient Power todiscuss the connection between lifestyle factors and breast cancer risk. How do diet and exercise impact disease risk and treatment outcomes? Watch as Dr. Ligibel shares research updates from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) long-term study and how to get involved in an upcoming clinical trial. 

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Transcript |

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Thanks so much for joining us today.  Can you tell us a little bit why you're here at ASCO? 

So I think it's not necessarily clear how to translate that into should people be eating a particular diet.  It was a study that was started a long time ago when we thought all fat was bad, which fortunately now I think we have a little bit better understanding of diet, but it does provide yet another piece of evidence that lifestyle factors, weight, diet, exercise, are really important for cancer prevention and control. 

It's a big study.  It will enroll more than 3,000 women from across the United States and Canada.  We're looking for women who have stage III and II breast cancer with either hormonally driven breast cancer or triple‑negative disease, and we've enrolled so far about 2100 women over the last two and a half years.   

So I tell people it's really important to stay active all through treatment.  We used to tell people you should rest.  Lay on the couch, eat ice cream.  We don't tell people those things anymore because we know that if you don't exercise for all the months that you're having your therapy it's really hard to get back to where you were before you were diagnosed.  You lose muscle pretty quickly, and there's some pretty dramatic changes that can happen during chemotherapy, losing muscle, gaining fat, even if people don't actually gain weight. 

So I tell people no matter where you are in your cancer trajectory you should be active.  We really focus a lot more on diet and weight changes after treatment is finished.  It can be hard to be trying to make a lot of changes in your diet when you're also dealing with chemotherapy and things like that, but really try to think about staying active throughout the whole trajectory and then focus a lot more on weight loss if that needs to be a goal after treatment's finished. 

You know, we're talking here at ASCO.  You know the theme is saying caring for every patient, learning from every patient.  How do you feel like you—how do you feel like you live that theme in your clinic and in your research?  

That's been great.  We have patients now from 49 of the 50 states.  About half of our patients come from community practices.  We enroll patients in some places where there aren't any other clinical trials.  This is it.  And so I think that's been really exciting to be able to really try to enroll every patient and not have this be restricted to people who live in areas that have a lot of resources.   

And as we say at Patient Power, knowledge can be the best medicine.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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