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Exercise reduces mortality in variety of cancers

Exercise reduces mortality in variety of cancers

Physical activity is an important part of cancer prevention and treatment strategy. The strongest link between exercise and reduced risk of death was seen across eight cancer types: breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, bladder, endometrial, esophageal and skin cancer.

Cancer patients who exercise regularly both in prediagnosis and postdiagnosis were significantly more likely to survive than those who are sedentary. The study published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control has revealed that habitually active patients experienced a significant reduction in all-cause mortality and in cancer-specific mortality compared with patients who were habitually inactive.

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Importantly, the researchers found that the improvement in survival was strong even for patients who began exercising only after being diagnosed with cancer, suggesting that a cancer diagnosis can serve as an impetus for healthy behavior changes in some patients.

“Patients who reported never doing any type of exercise until they were faced with a cancer diagnosis cut their risk of death by 25% to 28% compared to those who remained inactive,” said Dr. Cannioto, first author of the study. “Our research shows that it’s never too late to start an exercise program.”

Researchers from Roswell Park led by Rikki Cannioto examined the impact of exercise both before and after a cancer diagnosis for 5,807 patients. This large study demonstrates the potential value of regular exercise among cancer patients and survivors, regardless of age, weight, smoking status, or cancer type and stage, and is one of the first to examine the beneficial effect of regular physical activity before and after a cancer diagnosis across many different cancer types.

The patients included in this study were diagnosed with a wide range of early- to late-stage cancer types, including breast, prostate, hematological, lung, colorectal, kidney, esophageal, bladder, ovarian, endometrial, pancreatic, liver, stomach, sarcoma, head and neck, cervical, thyroid, testicular, brain, and skin cancer.

The researchers examined the association between cancer outcomes and recreational physical activity in this group, with particular attention to the weekly frequency, intensity, duration, and type of exercise performed in the decade before the cancer diagnosis as well as the weekly frequency of exercise within one year of their diagnosis.

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The investigators found that patients who exercised regularly both before and after their cancer diagnosis had a significantly decreased risk of death in comparison to patients who were sedentary.

Specifically, patients who exercised three or four times a week both before and after their diagnosis saw the greatest survival advantage (40%), but those who exercised only one or two times per week also had significantly better outcomes compared to inactive patients, suggesting that any amount of regular, weekly activity is better than inactivity.

“These data solidify the importance of the message that when it comes to exercise, some weekly activity is better than inactivity,” says Dr. Cannioto. “Our research also demonstrated that low-to-moderate weekly exercise is associated with significantly improved survival, which is particularly encouraging given that cancer patients and survivors can be overwhelmed by the current recommendations of at least 30 minutes of daily moderate-to-intense physical activity,” he added.

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Source: With inputs from the journal Cancer Causes & Control

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