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Support Groups

Lifestyle Factors That Help Genes Remain Healthy

From the 2020 Breast Cancer Options Healthy Lifestyles Calendar  


We know that lifestyle factors play an important role in cancer development. The good news is that we can do something about it. If we exercise regularly, lose weight, eat diets rich in vegetables and fruits, sleep in darkness, and learn how to handle the stress we might prevent 70% of all cancers. 


Proper lifestyle choices can influence a person's risk for cancer by generating growth-promoting signals that affect cells primed to become cancerous, or that already are cancerous. Cancer is ultimately a disease of malfunctioning genes. Only 10% of all cancers occur in people at high risk of developing cancer because of inherited genetic defects. Most of us are born with good genes, but during the course of our lifetimes, genes become damaged and mutate.


Control your weight: One of the most important lifestyle practices to improve breast cancer survival chances is maintaining healthful bodyweight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including breast cancers (in women past menopause),


What are the risks related to weight? Breast cancer risk begins to increase when adult weight gain (since age 18) is more than 20 pounds. Studies show that women who gained 21-30 pounds since age 18 were 40% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who had not gained more than 5 pounds, and women who gained 70 pounds doubled their risk.


WHY does obesity increase cancer risk? Obesity leads to high levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in circulation. It also leads to inflammation which may explain the link between obesity and cancer. Inflammation is a normal body process designed to heal the body following injury. When inflammation becomes chronic the injured tissue is constantly bathed in growth-promoting cytokines that tell stem cells in the tissue to begin multiplying, in order to replace the cells that have been injured and destroyed. The more overweight a person is, the greater the level of inflammatory signals.


What about alcohol consumption? How much is too much? Drinking alcohol increases estrogen levels in the body and some experts believe alcohol increases the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers. Beyond the estrogen connection, alcohol itself is believed to be carcinogenic. For ER-positive breast cancer survivors, studies suggest the risk of recurrence increases when a woman has more than one or two drinks per week.  All women, but especially those who drink, should consume folate-rich foods: leafy greens, legumes, and enriched whole-grain products are good sources.


Diet and Physical Activity: Studies show that women who eat a minimum of five servings of vegetables and fruit per day combined with regular physical activity roughly 150 minutes of brisk walking weekly, reduce their risk of recurrence even if they have the BRCA mutations. Natural plant foods contain a variety of phytochemicals, micronutrients with a variety of anti-cancer effects: anti-estrogenic, anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic, anti-angiogenic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.


How much physical activity is needed to lower breast cancer risk? Physical activity over a few months can turn genes on and off. Just 150 minutes of brisk walking a week lowered overall cancer risk. The most notable changes have been seen in inflammation, immune function, DNA repair, and hormonal pathways.  Being physically active lowers the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality, decreases treatment-related symptoms, and increases the quality of life. Activities considered moderate include walking, biking, and even housework and gardening.


Light at Night and EMR'S: The most overlooked hormone disruptors are exposure to light at night and the electromagnetic energy fields generated from cell phones, night lights, and electrical devices. Overnight exposure to elevated levels of EMR disrupts melatonin production and increases estrogen levels. Melatonin is a hormone that exerts anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. At night, watching TV, sitting in front of the computer, reading with artificial light into the wee hours, or sleeping with a light on, all contribute to melatonin deficiency. Studies show that even exposure to dim light at night may make breast cancers resistant to chemotherapy. Continual cell phone use generates over-exposure to EMR.


Some Suggestions

* Make sure your room is quiet and dark.

* If possible, complete work during the day; sleep at night.

* Avoid watching TV or using your computer at least an hour or so before going to bed.

* Sleep at least 3-5 feet away from outlets; unplug devices. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and melatonin production. Turn off the WiFi at night

* Avoid light at night. If you need a night light to go to the bathroom use a red bulb that won't suppress melatonin.

* Natural daylight is just as important as nighttime darkness in maintaining a normal circadian rhythm. Try to get outside for 15 minutes each morning.

* Exercise regularly. Exercise done early in the day may promote better quality sleep. Vigorous exercise just before bedtime may delay sleep.


Managing stress, adopting healthy eating and exercise habits, getting a good night's sleep, and finding good emotional and social support, should be regarded as much a part of cancer treatment as chemotherapy or radiation.



For information: 845-339-4673 or

These groups are supported with funds from the State of New York   



HAS ENDED. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO JOIN ANY ONLINE GROUP. Special programs & speakers will be scheduled. For information:

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MONDAY JUNE 15-   6:30-8pm   

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AJAMU AYINDE, M.A., A.C.H., C.I. is a Certified Medical Hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner, and Transpersonal Hypnosis Trainer.  Ajamu has written for Benedictine Hospital's Oncology Support Program newsletter. He has facilitated guided imagery workshops for cancer survivors in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Columbia Counties for Breast Cancer Options.



WEDNESDAY  JUNE 17 -  11:00 am.   

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After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.



WEDNESDAY  JUNE 17-   6-7:30 pm.   

You are invited to a Zoom meeting. Register in advance for this meeting:  

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

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