Monday, October 10, 2011

Health And Quality Of Life: Through Cancer And Beyond

This is a guest post by David Haas of the Haas Blaag:

Maintaining a healthy body can tremendously improve a person’s well-being and quality of life, both during and after cancer. During treatment, cancer patients are looking for ways to cope with their symptoms and the side effects of treatment. Afterwards, survivors are generally eager to return to good health. 

Beyond their initial recovery, cancer survivors are often left feeling tired, depressed, angry, or lost. Fortunately, there are ways to address these issues, improve long-term health, and truly enjoy life after cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends certain individual choices in several key areas, including weight, exercise, and diet.

A Healthy Weight

Research links weight gain, overweight, and obesity to several different types of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), breast, prostate, endometrial, colon, kidney, and esophageal cancers are a few examples. To help prevent cancer from returning, cancer survivors should avoid excessive weight gain and strike a balance between food intake and physical exercise.

An Active Lifestyle 

Physical activity is beneficial for everyone, and cancer survivors are no exception. Regular exercise improves a person’s physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. Exercise makes cancer patients and survivors fitter and stronger. It also reduces tiredness, improves mood, and increases self-confidence. The ACS recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, five or more days a week. 

Some cancer patients are unable to exercise or participate in physical activities. People undergoing mesothelioma treatment, for instance, are weak and may require machines to help them breathe. And breast cancer survivors cannot exercise after surgery, until drains and stitches are removed. But most cancer patients and survivors can start with mild or moderate doctor-approved activities, increasing intensity and duration over time.

A Healthy Diet

According to the ACS, everyone, including cancer survivors, should strive for a healthy diet that emphasizes plant sources. They should consume five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, along with whole grain foods. Red meats and processed foods are discouraged. And people should limit their alcohol intake to one or two drinks a day. Like exercise, a healthy diet can combat fatigue, depression, and other after-cancer issues. It can also help prevent cancer recurrence.

A healthy body is as important for cancer survivors of any kind. A balanced, healthy body is better able to cope with the struggles of cancer. More importantly, a healthy body improves quality of life, which allows people to enjoy their life through cancer and beyond.

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