Cancer Survivors Should Take Steps to Keep Healthy During Holidays

Avoid stress and try to relax, expert urges

FRIDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The holiday season can be especially meaningful for cancer survivors, but they need to take steps to ensure they stay healthy through this often hectic and stressful time.

One in 20 U.S. adults is a cancer survivor and their ranks are growing. Many of these folks have long-term health needs due to the disease and its treatment, experts at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center pointed out in a center news release.

Karen Syrjala, co-director of the center's Survivorship Program, offers holiday health tips for cancer survivors, including the following:

  • Be prepared for your holiday stress points. Take steps to deal with family conflicts or trying to do too much. For example, if you have to see a difficult relative, plan something fun afterward so you can look forward to doing something enjoyable.
  • Take control of your time and eliminate holiday events or traditions you feel you can do without. Also, try to postpone non-holiday events until the new year.
  • Make sure to schedule time with people who mean the most to you. Spending time with those closest to you has a beneficial effect on both the body and brain.
  • Keep physically active during the holidays and all through the year. It's good for your overall health and may even reduce your cancer-related risks.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Focus more on giving your body what it needs (such as fruits and vegetables) and less on trying not to eat certain foods. Eating healthy foods before going to a party will make it easier to resist sweets and other unhealthy foods. Consult a nutritionist if you're not sure what is healthy for you or if you have digestion problems.
  • Avoid alcohol or drink in moderation. Alcohol has been linked with an increased risk of cancer.
  • Find time to relax your body and mind, and tend to your body's needs. If you're having physical problems, make a list and schedule an appointment with your doctor in the new year. Knowing you have a plan for dealing with these problems can ease your mind during the holidays.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about cancer survivors.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, news release, November 2011

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