Healthy Living Can Prevent Breast Cancer: Napa Valley Resources

Research shows good nutrition and exercise can help prevent breast cancer. Here are some resources around the Napa Valley to help you stay healthy.

You might be able to find help fighting breast cancer and other types of cancers at your local grocery store and fitness centers, according to the research findings of Dr. Marian Neuhouser, Ph.D, RD. 

Dr. Neuhouser is a nutritional epidemiologist with a background in nutritional sciences. She is an investigator at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her research is focused on lifestyle factors such as nutrition and physical activity. Some factors may prevent breast and prostate cancer and improve survivorship in those diagnosed with cancer.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 American women will die from breast cancer.

Dr. Neuhouser’s research has found that for postmenopausal women in particular, being overweight or obese may increase the risk for breast cancer.

Dr. Neuhouser explains, “After menopause, estrogens are synthesized by adipose tissue—the more adipose a woman has, the more estrogen she will make. Adipose cells also synthesize inflammatory factors, which have been linked to breast cancer.”

One of the most important things a woman at risk for breast cancer can do, says Dr. Neuhouser, is to “maintain a healthy weight."  

Given what the research indicates, Dr. Neuhouser says, “One of the most important things is that if a woman is overweight or obese, she should be advised to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Daily physical activity and following healthy eating habits with plentiful fruits and vegetables and minimal empty calories and fried foods will help achieve these goals.”

Dr. Neuhouser says while it can be challenging to lose weight, “Small changes can add up and make a big difference."

When it comes to getting active, Dr. Neuhouser says, "If someone is not used to physical activity, try a five to ten minute walk and gradually increase the time. Having physical activity partners or walking partners always helps. I know my soccer team will be waiting for me on the field, so even if I am tired or busy, I still show up."

Keeping healthy and active in the Napa Valley

The North Bay, with its Mediterranean climate, gives locals a leg up on residents in more inclement areas: We can get out for exercise pretty much any day of the year, and the Napa Valley also offers boot camps, workout clubs, gyms and other exercise groups. 

You can join the running group at Napa Running Company 942 Main St, Napa (707-255-6688); ride your bicycle with the Eagle Cycling Club or another posse (get connected at Bicycle Works, 3335 Solano Ave, Napa, 707-253-70000.

Like to swim? Try Exertec Fitness Center, 1500 1st St, Napa (707-226-1842), HealthQuest Fitness Center, 3175 California Blvd, Napa (707-254-7200) or Synergy Medical Fitness Center, 3421 Villa Ln, Napa (707-251-1395). They all offer year-round swimming.

You can find many more choices for workouts in our directory and if you notice something's missing, be sure to let us know.

If you're outdoorsy, you can just strap on your all-terrain footwear and hit one of our local parks: From American Canyon to Calistoga, this county has some glorious hikes. Scoutmaster Jeff Johnson tells us about some of them in his blog post Fun Hikes and Walks in and Around Yountville. 

And if you'd like to combine your outdoor exercise with some good healthy volunteer work, Chino Yip of the Napa County Park and Open Space District could use your help: See his blog about Upvalley park and trail maintenance in our Local Voices section.

Get support to control your weight

When it comes to food, Dr. Neuhouser says, "Start with making one new food change each week. Instead of eating two cookies, eat just one.”

If you are concerned about your weight, Dr. Neuhouser suggests getting the support you need by asking your doctor for “ a referral to a reputable weight loss program.” For nutrition advice, Dr. Neuhouser recommends asking for a referral to a registered dietitian.

Locally, you can find support managing your weight through weight loss programs including Weight Watchers, 1726 Jefferson St, Napa, CA (800-651-6000) and Jenny Craig Weight Loss Center, 3202 Jefferson St, Napa (707-224-4900).

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