Improve Health, Well-Being, and Quality of Life with Breast Cancer with an Integrative Program Including Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness

Improve Health, Well-Being, and Quality of Life with Breast Cancer with an Integrative Program Including Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


Our cancer experiences take up a lot of energies, mental focus and can drain us emotionally. It is important to have a few tools to help us create ‘down’ and ‘out’ times, and to replenish and reconnect with who we are.  Mindfulness can also help during specific times of our cancer treatment – to prepare for surgery, while undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and before or during scans to help with scanxiety. “ – Karen Sieger


Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.


Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. Diet and exercise have also been shown to be effective for breast cancer patients who tend to become overweight or obese. The majority of research, however, explores mindfulness, diet, and exercise separately as treatments for breast cancer patients. It will be important to establish if the combination of these treatments may be especially effective.


In today’s Research News article “Influence of a Multidisciplinary Program of Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness on the Quality of Life of Stage IIA-IIB Breast Cancer Survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:, Ruiz-Vozmediano and colleagues recruited breast cancer patients who had completed treatment at least 12 months earlier. They were randomly assigned to a no-treatment control group or to receive a 6-month program of diet, exercise, and mindfulness. The diet intervention consisted of a 5-hour workshop on healthy eating that was repeated after 2 months. Exercise consisted of 7-weeks of 3 times per week for an hour stretching and weekly 50-minutes of dancing. Mindfulness training consisted of a 4-week, twice a week for 90 minutes Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program including discussion, meditation, yoga, and body scan. They were measured before and 6 months after the intervention for body size, food intake, and cancer quality of life. They also provided a blood sample that was assayed for glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels, and tumor markers.


They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group the participants who received the diet, exercise, and mindfulness intervention had significantly higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet, and greater quality of life including physical, role, and social functioning quality of life. They also had significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), blood triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein.


The results suggest that an integrated treatment of diet, exercise, and mindfulness training produces positive changes in breast cancer survivors including improvements in their quality of life, diet, body size, and blood lipid levels. Future research should perform a component analysis to determine the effects of each treatment component and their combinations on the patients. Regardless, the effects observed in the present study tend to predict maintained psychological and physical health in these patients.


So, improve health, well-being, and quality of life with breast cancer with an integrative program including diet, exercise, and mindfulness.


“mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients.” – BCRF


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Ruiz-Vozmediano, J., Löhnchen, S., Jurado, L., Recio, R., Rodríguez-Carrillo, A., López, M., Mustieles, V., Expósito, M., Arroyo-Morales, M., & Fernández, M. F. (2020). Influence of a Multidisciplinary Program of Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness on the Quality of Life of Stage IIA-IIB Breast Cancer Survivors. Integrative cancer therapies, 19, 1534735420924757.



Background: Integrative oncology has proven to be a useful approach to control cancer symptoms and improve the quality of life (QoL) and overall health of patients, delivering integrated patient care at both physical and emotional levels. The objective of this randomized trial was to evaluate the effects of a triple intervention program on the QoL and lifestyle of women with breast cancer. Methods: Seventy-five survivors of stage IIA-IIB breast cancer were randomized into 2 groups. The intervention group (IG) received a 6-month dietary, exercise, and mindfulness program that was not offered to the control group (CG). Data were gathered at baseline and at 6 months postintervention on QoL and adherence to Mediterranean diet using clinical markers and validated questionnaires. Between-group differences at baseline and 3 months postintervention were analyzed using Student’s t test for related samples and the Wilcoxon and Mann-Whitney U tests. Results: At 6 months postintervention, the IG showed significant improvements versus CG in physical functioning (p = .027), role functioning (p = .028), and Mediterranean diet adherence (p = .02) and a significant reduction in body mass index (p = .04) and weight (p = .05), with a mean weight loss of 0.7 kg versus a gain of 0.55 kg by the CG (p = .05). Dyspnea symptoms were also increased in the CG versus IG (p = .066). Conclusions: These results demonstrate that an integrative dietary, physical activity, and mindfulness program enhances the QoL and healthy lifestyle of stage IIA-IIB breast cancer survivors. Cancer symptoms may be better managed by the implementation of multimodal rather than isolated interventions.


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