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Healthy Living Can Prevent Breast Cancer: DuPage County Resources

Research shows good nutrition and exercise can help prevent breast cancer. Here are some resources around DuPage County to help you stay healthy.

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."

Looking for a place to go in DuPage?

  • Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield offers a variety of classes, including yoga, cardio circuit conditioning, and aquatic exercise. Check out those classes and more here
  • Elmhurst Memorial Hospital offers Zumba, a fun, non-intimidating class that fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy to follow moves to create a dynamic workout that burns calories, pumps the muscles, and energizes and tones the body. Click here for more information about Zumba and other fitness classes.
  • Edward Hospital in Naperville offers more than 300 different types of wellness classes to help you cook, parent, run, meditate, relax, communicate, work, and just plain live better.
  • Fitness membership at Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove gives participants access to a variety of fitness classes including pilates, swimming, strength training and more.

When it comes to 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.

Locally, you can find support managing your weight through weight loss programs.

  • At the Naperville Weight Loss Center, patients are encouraged to lose weight safely, effectively and with lasting results.
  • Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center offers both individual and group sessions for the person who wants to meet weight management and/or nutrition goals. The class is led by a registered, licensed dietitians and certified fitness professionals. Click here for more information.
  • Elmhurst Memorial Hospital offers an Overeaters Anonymous group to help the person suffering from severe overweight, anorexia or bulimia.
 The group is held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays. For more information, click here.

Looking for a registered dietitian to help you on your journey?

  • To schedule an appointment with one at Edward Hospital, click here.
  • Find one at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital by clicking here.

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