Unfortunately, there is a link between breast cancer and depression. In fact, about 25 percent of women with breast cancer suffer from significant depression. That's the bad news. The good news is that you can offset your risk of developing depression with two simple lifestyle modifications: drink green tea and exercise regularly.

Breast Cancer and Depression

Studies have shown that higher levels of symptom distress in women with breast cancer predict higher levels of anxiety or depression. When you're facing a cancer diagnosis and treatment, that's not surprising. Furthermore, chemotherapy is also a known risk factor for depression. If you're receiving Tamoxifen, a commonly used chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, you're more likely to develop depression. And, if you are already taking the antidepressant paroxetine while receiving Tamoxifen, you are also at greater risk for depression and potential recurrence of breast cancer.


We all know exercise is good for us, even if we don't have cancer. It reduces stress, helps us sleep better, improves our physical and mental functioning, and leads to an overall improved quality of life. Exercise helps prevent, or reduce, the symptoms of depression, even in women with breast cancer.

Furthermore, exercise helps breast cancer survivors live longer and can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by at least 20 percent--even more if you're postmenopausal--even if you don't start exercising until you're older.

Don't worry. You don't have to engage in extreme physical activity to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Even walking 30 minutes daily can help reduce depression and risk for cancer.

Green Tea

Native Chinese people have been drinking green tea for centuries and for good reason. Green tea, which comes from the plant Camellia sinensis, is loaded with phenols, or antioxidants. Antioxidants inhibit the development of malignancies by scavenging free radicals that damage cell membranes and DNA, leaving cells vulnerable and at risk for cancer.

Women with breast cancer who consumed greater quantities of green tea had a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms in a study with older adults. These results confirm other study findings that demonstrate important health benefits from green tea. Green tea may also reduce risk of lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers, as well as the risk for other types of cancers.

If you have breast cancer, exercise and green tea together may protect you from depression.


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