It’s the new year and there are many reasons why people make getting fit a New Year’s Resolution. For cancer patients though starting and keeping this resolution is beneficial since bones are important organs in our bodies that need special attention during and after cancer treatment.
Many side effects of treatment can induce bone loss, cause thinning of the bones (osteopenia) and increase the risk of fractures. There is also a connection between cancer-related bone disease and death. Keeping your bones strong and healthy is more than just a good idea. It can also be a lifesaver.
What cancer treatments affect bone health?
• Hormone therapy, such as aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer or androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer
• Steroids, such as prednisone
• Blood thinners
• Radiation therapy, especially to the pelvis
What can you do to keep your bones strong?
- Eat calcium-rich foods, such as turnip or collard greens, navy beans and milk or cheese to meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for your age. For most, this is 1000-1200 mg daily.
- Get enough vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium. The RDA is 600-800 IU daily, depending on your age. A supplement may be needed to reach your goal.
- Eat a nutritious diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to maintain a healthy weight. This will ensure you get all the other nutrients your body needs, including vitamins A, C, K, phosphorus and more.
- Weight-bearing exercise, such as weight training, walking, hiking, jogging and climbing stairs, helps strengthen bones. If you have health problems, check with your physician before you begin a regular exercise program.
- If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Stick to no more than one drink for women, two drinks for men each day. One drink is defined as 12 oz beer, 1.5 oz of spirits or a 5 oz glass of wine.
Read Thrive’s Bone Up for Bone Health for healthy recipes to help keep your bones strong.
Thrive magazine is a quarterly publication of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, offering inspirational patient stories, news and information on programs and services, tips on coping and living with cancer and more. Find Thrive in the Cancer Center or online.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan for cancer patient care. Seventeen multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.