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 breast cancer.
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."
As for 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.
The Southland offers several options for women who want to get fit in a group setting.
Julie Danno was inspired to start her Mokena yoga studio, Mindful Movements, after using yoga and Pilates to succeed in her own battle against breast cancer. Today, her studio offers classes in yoga, core work, Zumba and other areas of fitness.
There are 13 Southland loctions for Curves for Women including Frankfort, New Lenox, Oak Lawn, Beverly and Oak Forest. The national fitness chain provides group support for women who want to get healthy and is offering free membership in October for any woman who has had a mammogram in the past 12 months.
Harmonic Way Group Fitness & Wellness offers workouts in a group setting, with its circuit conditioning and toning classes. Since its inception in 1982, Women's Workout World's mission has been to help women achieve their weight and fitness goals. There are locations in Oak Lawn/Hometown and Tinley Park.
Orland Square Mall is home to the Square Striders Mall Walker Club sponsored by Ingalls Hospital. Mall doors open at 8 a.m. (lower level Sears entrance) Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sundays. More than 300 walkers visit the mall daily.
Palos Hospital operates a health and fitness center in Orland Park.
Third Dimension Fitness in Mokena offers personal training to everyone who uses the facilities.
Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park helps women before, during and after cancer treatments through its Breast Health Center.
Sunshine Yoga and Spa in Orland Park offers classes for women's fitness ranging from yoga to pilates.
Fitness centers abound in the Southland including Planet Fitness in Evergreen Park, Lifetime Fitness in Orland Park, LA Fitness has six locations including Tinley Park, Beverly and Oak Lawn, and Orland Park-based Charter Fitness has a dozen locations in the Southland.
Diet guru Seattle Sutton who operates nutrition sites throughout the Southland is mindful of nutrition for women as a breast cancer survivor for 13 years and has a special message for women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Oak Lawn Park District offers a long list of fitness classes including water aerobics at Richards High School.
The Tinley Park-Park District holds fitness classes including yoga, cardio salsa, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Boot Camp.
The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District offers a variety of fitness and sports classes at its Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet and Fitness Club.