Cancer is a devastating diagnosis that leaves many feeling lost and alone after treatment ends. As a cancer survivor, you may be wondering how to prevent a recurrence and truly heal. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the research-backed steps you need to take to lower your risk of recurrence and recover fully after cancer.
If you have gone through cancer treatment, you know that you get ample support during that difficult period. But as soon as treatment ends, you are left to figure out healing and prevention alone. Vague advice like “eat healthy and exercise” doesn’t provide the clarity you need to lower your risk.
In this guide, we will cover specific, proven strategies thousands have used to help prevent cancer recurrence. I will share the key nutrition, lifestyle and mindset steps you need to take. By following these 9 steps, you can confidently move forward after cancer.
1. Eat Lean Protein
What you eat matters. The right nutrition can help you manage side effects, maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of recurrence. There is some debate online about what diet is best after cancer. Is keto best? Should you go vegetarian or vegan? Avoid sugar entirely? The truth is that focusing on lean protein sources is most important.
As a cancer survivor, you likely need more protein than you are currently eating. Protein helps your body heal, recover, maintain your weight and get you through lingering side effects. You do not need to fully avoid meat. White meat like chicken, turkey and fish have not been linked to higher recurrence risk.
Aim for about 30 grams of protein per meal. That could be 3 eggs or 4 ounces of chicken. If you prefer plant-based protein, beans, lentils and tofu are great options. Work with a nutritionist to determine your ideal daily protein target based on your needs.
2. Eat Plant-Forward
Eating “plant forward” means making plants the focus of your meals. Load up half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal. The fiber, antioxidants and nutrients in produce help lower recurrence risk and support healing.
Veggies also provide important fiber. Research shows higher fiber intake is associated with lower recurrence risk. Fill half your breakfast plate with spinach. Add veggies to soups and salads. Eat berries as a snack. Slowly increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
3. Do Targeted Cardio Exercise
Being strategic with exercise is vital. The right combo of cardio and strength training can lower recurrence risk up to 59%. Many survivors think they should just rest after treatment. But specific exercise is key.
Start with low intensity cardio like walking. Slowly increase your daily steps each week until you reach 10,000 daily steps. Ultimately aim for 150-300 minutes of gentle cardio per week. Avoid high intensity exercise, which can worsen side effects. Walking is a simple way to improve energy and lower risk.
4. Add Targeted Strength Training
In combination with cardio, strength training 2-3 times per week significantly lowers recurrence odds. Many find strength training intimidating at first. Start with bodyweight moves like squats, lunges and pushups. Eventually add weights. Focus on full body routines, not just arms or legs.
5. Take Cancer Prevention Supplements
Supplements can provide an extra layer of prevention when combined with a healthy lifestyle. But healthy eating must come first, so wait on supplements until nutrition is dialed in. Work with a doctor or nutritionist to determine which supplements may help lower your individual risk.
6. Eat Beans and Legumes
Increase your bean and legume intake to 5 times per week. Lentils, chickpeas, black beans and more have been consistently shown to lower cancer risk. Beans are inexpensive, versatile and easy to add to many dishes.
7. Limit Processed Meats and Alcohol
There are 2 foods strongly tied to higher recurrence risk: processed meats and alcohol. Processed meats like bacon, deli meat and cured ham contain compounds that may increase odds of recurrence. Limit intake of these.
Alcohol also raises risk, especially in higher amounts. Women who drink 1 or less drinks per day have a 4% higher risk. More than that raises risk further. Enjoy occasional drinks in moderation if desired, but limiting alcohol intake is advised.
8. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight raises recurrence risk for many cancers. Losing weight after treatment is challenging, especially with effects like forced menopause. But even small losses can start lowering your risk. Work with your care team to develop a personalized weight loss plan.
9. Develop a Cancer Remission Mindset
Your mindset impacts your healing in big ways. Reading inspiring books like Carol Dweck’s Mindset can help you reframe negative thoughts and empower you to take control of your health. Consider joining a support group to connect with others working toward remission. Developing a growth mindset is key.
Lowering your risk of recurrence requires taking control of your lifestyle. Start working through these 9 research-backed steps. Begin with improving your nutrition, then build from there. You deserve to feel your best and confidently move forward after cancer. By taking action, you can significantly reduce your odds of recurrence.