Other Physical Effects

Preventing Heart Disease

Early menopause at a younger age (caused by chemotherapy) increases the risk for heart disease. Since estrogen helps some breast cancers to grow, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is not advised for those who have had breast cancer. Be sure everyone on your health care team is aware you have had breast cancer and talk to all of your doctors before taking any medicines, including herbal or dietary supplements, to help prevent heart disease. You may have heard of products that are helpful to use instead of hormone replacement. They act in the body like estrogen does, making them potentially unsafe for women who have had breast cancer. ALWAYS talk with your doctor before trying any such product. 

Tips to Help Combat Heart Disease:

  • Eat smart. Make sure that what you eat is low in fat and cholesterol. The American Heart Association says that you should:
    • - See that fat makes up no more than 30% of your total caloric intake per day. The amount of cholesterol you have should be less than 300 mg/day.
    • - Replace saturated fats (full-fat milk products, fatty meats, vegetable oils) in your diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats (olive oils, lean meats, fish and skinless poultry).
    • - Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • Keep your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes.
  • Lose weight if you are above your ideal body weight. Even a little weight loss will help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Keep track of your blood pressure readings and cholesterol levels.
  • Take medicine to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol if your doctor orders it.
  • Keep your heart fit by being active (do things that increase your heart rate like fast walking or jogging) for 20-30 minutes or more at least three times a week. Walking has been shown to have the same impact on your cardiovascular health as vigorous running or exercise.
  • Reduce stress in your life.
  • If you smoke, stop. Tobacco is the single biggest cause of death and disease in the world. Smoking puts you at higher risk for many diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and a number of other cancers, diabetes and more. Remember, breast cancer survivors are at a higher risk of getting a second cancer.
  • Ask your doctor about diet and lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease.

For More Information: American Heart Association (1-800-242-8721)

When Do You Need To Seek Help?

Talk to your doctor or health care team when you have concerns. Be sure to tell them if you or your family has a history of heart disease. They can give you more help with ways to prevent heart disease after the change of life.

Useful Websites:

American Heart Association:

US Food and Drug Administration: Eating for a Healthy Heart:

Preventing Osteoporosis

Menopause (change of life) and hormonal changes can increase the risk of bone tissue loss, also known as osteoporosis, in women. Since chemotherapy can induce menopause, breast cancer survivors are then at higher risk for osteoporosis. However, since Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which can ease symptoms of menopause, contains estrogen and estrogen can help breast cancers grow, HRT is NOT often recommended for those who have had breast cancer. Be sure all your doctors are aware you have had breast cancer and talk to your doctors before taking any medicines, herbal or dietary supplements to help prevent bone loss. You may have heard of products that are called safe substitutes for hormone replacement. Some act in the body like estrogen and their safety in those who have had breast cancer has not been proven.

Women who have gone through the change of life due to treatment and women taking drugs such as aromatase inhibitors like Arimidex should have their bone health checked. This can be done by having a bone mineral density test (scan).

Osteoporosis Risk Factors:
  • Being female. Women have about twice the risk that men do.
  • Age. The older you get, the higher the risk.
  • Race. If you are white or of Southeast Asian descent, your risk is greater.
  • Lifetime exposure to estrogen. The more exposure to estrogen, the lower the risk is.
  • Family history.
  • Frame size. Those who are very thin or have a small frame have a higher risk.
  • Tobacco use.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Excess caffeine intake.
  • Chronic alcoholism.
  • Taking certain medicines.
  • Low calcium intake. Lifelong calcium has an effect on bone density.

How To Keep Your Bones Healthy:
  • Eat a well-rounded diet.
  • Make sure you are getting enough calcium. Some calcium rich foods are dairy products, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables. Many juices and cereals also have calcium added to them. The amount of calcium considered adequate is 1000-1200 mg per day. This will vary depending on your age. The body can absorb only about 500 mg of a calcium supplement at any one time, so you should split your dose into two (2) or three (3) servings a day. The best way to take it is with a meal, as the calcium is absorbed better that way.
  • Make sure that you are getting enough Vitamin D. The best source is sun exposure. A general rule is to expose your hands and arms to the sun for about 15 minutes on warm days. There are some dietary sources. The best are milk products that have added Vitamin D and oily fish. You should get five (5) to 10 micrograms (200-400 IU) of Vitamin D a day.
  • Avoid caffeine products. (Coffee, colas and chocolate…)
  • Exercise. Weight-bearing exercise like walking, jogging and aerobics, prevents bone loss.
  • Discuss taking a Calcium/ Vitamin D supplement with your doctor. They can help you decide how much and what kind of calcium you should take.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation.
  • Talk to your doctor about how to prevent bone loss. There are other medicines besides HRT that prevent bone loss and may be safe for you to take.

When Do You Need to Seek Help?

Be sure to tell your doctor or health care team if you have a family history of osteoporosis or other risk factors. They can give you more advice and facts about how to prevent this disease after the change of life.

Useful Websites:

National Osteoporosis Foundation:

University of Alabama at Birmingham/A Multidisciplinary Approach to Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis:

Mayo Clinic/Osteoporosis:

WebMD/Osteoporosis Health Center:

Managing Bowels

Constipation (having a bowel movement less often than is usual for you) may be a side effect of medicine that you take, or it may be associated with the foods you're eating.

What Causes Constipation?

Your stools may be small, hard and dry, making them harder to pass. Everyone is different, and some people have a bowel movement each day, and others have one less often, maybe three times a week. There may be a problem for you if you notice that you are having bowel movements less often than normal, or if you’re having pain associated with your bowel movements.

Taking narcotic pain medicine often leads to bowel problems. These medicines slow the movement of waste through the colon. When this happens water is absorbed from the waste. The result is that the stool is dry and hard. Medicines for anxiety, depression, stomach antacids, diuretics, some vitamins, and sleep will also add to this problem. A good diet will go a long way to help prevent constipation. Liquids and fiber are two areas to focus on. They can help you manage your bowels. Liquids like water and juice will help add fluid and bulk to the waste while it is in your colon. Fiber will add bulk and soften the waste so that the stool is not hard to pass. Adding more liquid and fiber may solve your bowel problems.

If you are taking pain medicines, you should try to have regular bowel movements.

How To Keep Your Bowels Moving
  • Drink 8-10 (8 oz) glasses of water per day, and more if you’re physically active. This should include what you drink with meals. You may choose to add 100% fruit juice which can help, but try to limit that to one (1) cup per day.
  • Probiotics or yogurt may help with constipation. Many forms of probiotics are available over the counter at your pharmacy or supermarket. These help by stimulating the “good bacteria” in your gut.
  • Add more fiber to your diet by eating more fruits (raisins, prunes, peaches, and apples), vegetables (squash, broccoli carrots, and celery), and whole grain cereals, breads, and bran. You should have 25 grams of fiber each day, so read labels and make sure you are getting enough. If you need to increase the amount, do it over time, not overnight. Increasing your fiber intake can make you feel a little bloated or gassy. Just remember to drink plenty of water along with it, and those feelings should ease after your body becomes used to the increased bulk.
  • High fiber foods with their fiber content (many cereals and meal on the go bars are available with higher fiber options):
    • - Kidney beans, 1 cup cooked, 11.3
    • - Lentils, 1 cup cooked, 15.6
    • - Split peas, 1 cup cooked, 16.3
    • - Dried plums, 1 cup raw, 4.7
    • - Apple with skin, 1 small,2.5
    • - Peach with skin, 1 larger, 2.4
    • - Broccoli, 1 cup raw, 2.4
    • - Tomato, 1 large raw, 3.4
    • - Wheat bran flake cereal, 1 ounce, 4.9
    • - Whole wheat bread, 1 slice, 4.1
    • - Brown rice, ½ cup cooked, 1.8
  • Always drink more liquids when eating more fiber. If you don’t take in enough liquid, that will make things worse.
  • Stay active and exercise to help to keep your bowels normal.
  • Using laxatives or enemas may add to the problem. If you are using these products daily, you should talk with your health care team about other options. Using these frequently may over time cause your bowels to not work properly on their own.
  • Try to drink a warm or hot drink about one half-hour before your usual time for a bowel movement. Some dieticians suggest warm prune juice (but this can be a little hard to take if you don’t like prune juice).
  • There are many medicines that may help. Some of them are bulk-forming laxatives, lubricants (mineral oil, liquid petrolatum), suppositories (glycerin, bisacodyl, senna), and stimulants. Call your doctor to find out which one will work best for you.

When Do You Need to Seek Help?

Talk to your doctor or health care team about constipation. They may have more ideas about medicines to help you manage your bowels.

Useful Websites:

National Cancer Institute/Gastrointestinal Complications:

Chemocare/Constipation and Chemotherapy:

Cancer Research UK/Causes of Constipation:

Urinary Changes

For some women, menopausal changes (also called the change of life) caused by chemotherapy, result in urinary changes. These changes are just the body’s way of responding to lower amounts of female hormones and may include the urge to void often, as well as urinary infections.

Tips for Dealing With Urinary Changes:
  • Drink lots of liquids. Try to drink at least 8-10 (64-80 ounces) glasses of liquids each day.
  • Keep track of your voiding patterns if you notice any changes.
  • Try to void with a schedule. Do not hold urine over long periods of time, and be sure to go to the bathroom at least every two (2) hours.
  • If you are having urine leak, keep small female pads handy.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol since they can irritate the bladder.
  • Avoid foods with red dyes, which also irritate the bladder.
  • Try Kegel Exercises:
    • - Practice pelvic muscle exercises called Kegels (not just for pregnancy!). Kegels prevent drop of the pelvic organs by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. This can help prevent leaking urine when you sneeze or cough.
    • - Kegel muscles are attached to the pelvic bone and act like a hammock, holding in your pelvic organs. Try and isolate these muscles by stopping and starting the flow of urine.
    • - Once you have located the muscles, simply tighten and relax the muscle over and over, about 20 times a day or for five (5) minutes twice a day.
    • - There are many kinds of kegels: elevator kegels (where you tighten slowly, going in and out, like an elevator stopping on several floors); you can hold the muscle tight for five seconds, you can bulge the muscles out at the end.

When Do You Need to Seek Help?

If you are going to the bathroom more often, or having pain, burning or urgency during voiding, check to see if you have a fever. Also note the color of your urine, and call your doctor or health care team as soon as you can. You may have a bladder infection (also called a urinary tract infection or UTI).

Useful Websites:

WebMD/Kegel Exercises:

Mayo Clinic/Kegel Exercises: A How-To Guide for Women:

Epigee Women’s Health/Urinary Tract Infections:

Louisiana's Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network

Young women with breast cancer face unique issues. And in the South, there are more young women overall facing breast cancer. In Louisiana, young African-American women are significantly more likely to suffer from breast cancer.

That is why SurviveDAT is here. Part of the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network, SurviveDAT's mission is to help improve the quality of life for young breast cancer survivors, as well as their family and friends, by providing continuing resources and support.

Asp.Net CMS By Joopk.com