Breast cancer awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Fortify Your Bone Health During Cancer Treatment

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  We take this time as an opportunity to focus on breast cancer, its impact on those affected by the disease, and the long-term effects treatments can have on an individual’s bone health.

Sadly, breast cancer remains one of the most common cancers affecting Australian women. While survival rates continue to improve, not all impacted are so fortunate. Beyond the effects of the disease itself, there is also an array of impacts breast cancer and its associated treatments can have on an individual’s bone health.

Breast cancer is not just one disease. There are different types and subtypes of disease that we group under one label. This means that the journey of two people with breast cancer won’t always be the same; they are often very different. This also means their treatments and the subsequent long-term effects vary greatly.

However, many women experience some bone density loss due to breast cancer and their varying treatments. According to the NIH, “Women who have had breast cancer treatment may be at increased risk for osteoporosis and fracture. Estrogen has a protective effect on bone, and reduced levels of the hormone trigger bone loss. Because of treatment medications or surgery, many breast cancer survivors experience a loss of ovarian function and, consequently, a drop in estrogen levels. Before their cancer treatment, premenopausal women may go through menopause earlier than those who have not had breast cancer”.

For someone newly diagnosed, it’s always good to be proactive in ensuring your bone health is maintained on your journey to recovery. By discussing your bone health with your Doctor or Specialist, you can develop a plan together. Unfortunately, bone density loss is often not easily noticeable until it is significant and results in a fracture, so prevention is critical. To establish a baseline, your doctor may refer you for a bone density check, commonly called a Dexa scan. This is an entirely painless scan to help determine your baseline bone density levels.

Fortunately, there are numerous diet and lifestyle steps you can take to help maintain bone health during and after treatment. One of the easiest changes to make is to ensure you are maintaining a diet high in bioavailable calcium-rich foods such as fish with edible bones (sardines and tinned salmon), tofu, almonds and Brazil nuts, unhulled sesame seeds, dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach and bok-choy), dried figs and apricots, kidney beans and dairy. Additionally, you can begin taking a Vitamin D supplement and avoiding alcohol.

Keeping active and including some exercise in your day is an often missed but crucial step you can take when undertaking cancer treatment. Exercise can minimise symptoms as well as optimise your body’s ability to maintain bone density. The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia encourages health professionals to:

  1. Discuss the role of exercise in cancer recovery
  2. Recommend patients to follow exercise guidelines
  3. Refer patients to a health professional who specialises in the prescription and delivery of exercise (i.e. accredited exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care).


Using a service that has been crafted specifically to aid in increasing bone density can also help. These services, such as OsteoStrong, can form a part of the recommended exercise regime during cancer treatment and recovery and can be critical in avoiding bone density loss.

Breast Cancer can be a scary and emotional journey, and we wait eagerly as research grows into treatments and preventions for a day when every person has a story of survival.

Note: Always consult with your doctor before making any decisions on changes to your diet and lifestyle while under their care to ensure they can support you every step of the way.

If you are undergoing or have recently undergone cancer treatment, then get in touch so we can work together to help strengthen your bones, improve your balance and build your strength.

Team OsteoStrong

Team OsteoStrong


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