Breast cancer survivors who exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet can dramatically decrease their chances of dying from the disease at a later date, a new study suggests.
The research is the first to look at the impact of both diet and physical activity on breast cancer survival.
It found that healthy living reduces the chances of dying from breast cancer even if a woman is obese.
US scientists from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) studied 1,490 women aged 70 and younger, with an average age of 50.
The women, who had all undergone primary therapy for early-stage breast cancer, took part in the study looking at the effects of lifestyle on health.
The researchers found that women who are both physically active and have a healthy diet are much more likely to survive for between five and 11 years than the rest of the group.
Research found their death rate was 7% - about half that seen for the other women taking part in the study.
Dr John Pierce, from the Moores Cancer Centre at UCSD, said: "We demonstrate in this study of breast cancer survivors that even if a woman is overweight, if she eats at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day and walks briskly for 30 minutes, six days a week, her risk of death from her disease goes down by 50%. The key is that you must do both."
The findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.