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LMU – 05 Supplements in Breast Cancer Survivors: Enhancing Survival through Diet, Lifestyle, and Nutrition


LMU 05 - Supplements in Breast Cancer Survivors: Enhancing Survival through Diet, Lifestyle, and Nutrition

Source: Journal – Neurology, December, 2015

Lifestyle Medicine Update (April 11, 2016)


Welcome to Lifestyle Medicine Update with Dr. James Meschino. Today, I am excited to discuss a groundbreaking study published in Breast Cancer Research and Therapy in November 2011, which sheds light on the impact of supplements on breast cancer survivors’ survival rates and relapse risks during the critical two-year follow-up period after treatment.

The Power of a Healthy Lifestyle:

Breast cancer is a significant concern for women worldwide, with millions of lives affected each year. Survival rates have improved significantly over the years due to advances in medical treatments, but research has increasingly emphasized the role of lifestyle factors in influencing cancer outcomes. This study explored the connection between a healthy lifestyle and breast cancer survivorship. A healthy lifestyle was defined as consuming at least 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily and being moderately physically active (non-sedentary for 16 hours/week). The results were astounding. Women who ranked in the top 25% for following a healthy lifestyle had a remarkable 60-70% reduction in mortality risk from any cause during the two-year follow-up period. The study highlighted the importance of adopting a wholesome lifestyle in improving survival outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Complementing a Healthy Diet with Supplements:

Supplements are often seen as the missing piece in the puzzle of optimal health. While a healthy diet forms the foundation, supplements are designed to enhance the metabolic effects of proper nutrition and exercise. In the case of breast cancer survivors, multiple vitamin supplements showed promise in further amplifying their survival benefits.

The study revealed that adding a multiple vitamin supplement further improved survival outcomes by 60-70% when combined with a healthy lifestyle. However, it is crucial to understand that supplements alone cannot completely reverse the effects of unhealthy dietary and lifestyle practices. They are meant to complement and augment the benefits of a nutritious diet and regular exercise.

The Shanghai Study: Consistent Findings:

To validate the study’s findings mentioned above, let’s take a closer look at the Shanghai study conducted in China. This study followed 4,877 breast cancer survivors and focused on antioxidant supplement use, including vitamin C, E, and multivitamins, during the first six months post-diagnosis.

The results from the Shanghai study aligned with the previous research, showing a significant association between supplement use and decreased risks of cancer recurrence by 22% and overall mortality by 18%. These consistent findings underscore the potential benefits of incorporating supplements into the post-treatment care of breast cancer survivors.

A Comprehensive Approach to Breast Cancer Survivorship:

The evidence gathered from both studies emphasizes the significance of a comprehensive approach to breast cancer survivorship. It involves not only medical treatments but also lifestyle modifications and nutritional supplementation. By implementing a healthy diet, being physically active, and supplementing with vital nutrients, we can synergistically contribute to improved survival outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Breast cancer survivors face unique challenges during their journey to recovery and beyond. Integrative oncology, which combines conventional medical treatments with evidence-based lifestyle interventions, is gaining momentum as a promising approach to improving patient outcomes and quality of life. Empowering breast cancer survivors with the knowledge of lifestyle medicine is essential for fostering a greater sense of control and well-being throughout their journey to recovery and beyond. It is crucial to consult with healthcare professionals and registered dietitians to tailor the proper supplement regimen and lifestyle plan for everyone’s zunique needs.

By combining medical expertise with lifestyle changes, we can provide breast cancer survivors with a comprehensive approach that addresses their physical and emotional well-being. This approach can significantly contribute to better outcomes and a higher quality of life for these brave individuals.


In conclusion, studies on supplements in breast cancer survivors reveal that a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is critical in improving survival rates. The benefits can be further enhanced when coupled with the right supplements, such as multiple vitamins and antioxidants. However, it is essential to remember that supplements are not a substitute for healthy lifestyle practices; they work best when combined with proper nutrition and physical activity.

By embracing lifestyle medicine and consulting healthcare professionals, breast cancer survivors can take charge of their well-being and increase their chances of thriving after treatment. As we advance our understanding of breast cancer survivorship, we must never forget the power of lifestyle choices in improving overall health and resilience. Together, we can empower breast cancer survivors on their journey to a healthier and happier life. Thank you for joining me in this critical discussion, and I look forward to sharing more insights in the next Lifestyle Medicine Update.


  1. Sotirchos E. S., Bhargava P,  Eckstein C,  Van Haren K,  Baynes M. Ntranos A et al.Safety and immunologic effects of high- vs. low-dose cholecalciferol in multiple sclerosis. Neurology, 2015 (

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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