Preventing Recurrence

Numerous studies have shown that lifestyle factors have an impact on recurrence of breast cancer and outcomes after breast cancer.

Physical Activity

  • Women who have had breast cancer should engage in regular, moderate exercise of at least 30-60 minutes per day
  • Lifestyle factors to reduce the risk of recurrence: the St. Gallen Panel supported use of an exercise regimen and weight loss (or at least avoidance of weight gain)1
  • There is consistent evidence from 27 observational studies that physical activity is associated with reduced breast cancer specific mortality2
  • High levels of physical activity may improve survival in postmenopausal women with breast cancer, even among those reporting low physical activity prior to diagnosis3


  • Obesity and BMI studies have shown that women who are obese are more likely to have a recurrence and have poorer survival compared to those who maintain a normal body weight BMI less than 25 2,4


  • The evidence for following a specific diet is not conclusive though many studies find that a Mediterranean diet that includes fish, olive oil, vegetables etc is desirable and that processed meat and red meat should be avoided5
  • Vitamin D should be included in the diet for women shown to be vitamin D deficient1
  1. Coates S, Winer EP, Goldhirsch A, Gelber RD, Gnant M, Piccart-Gebhart M, Thürlimann B, Senn HJ and Panel members, Tailoring therapies - improving the management of early breast cancer: St Gallen International Expert Consensus on the Primary Therapy of Early Breast Cancer 2015. Ann Oncol (2015) 26 (8): 1533-1546 first published online May 4, 2015
  2. Ballard-Barbash R, Friedenreich CM, Cournva KS et al, Physical activity Biomarker and Disease outcomes in Cancer Survivors: a Systematic Review, Journal of Nat cancer Institute 2012;104:815-840
  3. Irwin ML, McTiernan A, Manson JE, et al. Physical Activity and Survival in Postmenopausal Women with Breast Cancer: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer prevention research (Philadelphia, Pa). April 2011;4(4):522-529
  4. Protani M, Coory M, Martin JH, Effect of obesity on survival of women with breast cancer: systematic review and analysis, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment October 2010, Volume 123, Issue 3, pp 627-635
  5. Chlebowski RT, Nutrition and physical activity influence on breast cancer incidence and outcome, The Breast (2013), Vol 22 Suppl 2:S30-37