Diet and Exercise Intervention Produces Results in Long-term Survivors

Posted on July 15th, 2009 by

Long-term survivors of breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer who participated in a year-long home-based diet and exercise intervention reported a smaller decline in physical function compared with their counterparts who did not participate in the program, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.[1]

Research has consistently indicated that proper nutrition, physical activity, and healthy body weight are critical for maintaining optimal health and preventing cancer. Cancer survivors are at an increased risk of developing subsequent cancers. Furthermore, cancer and its treatment have been associated with accelerated functional decline. As cancer treatments continue to improve, more cancer survivors are surviving beyond the five-year mark, making it imperative that these survivors maintain healthy lifestyle habits in order to maintain optimal health.

The Reach Out to Enhance Wellness (RENEW) Trial included 641 overweight, long-term survivors of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer between the ages of 65 and 91 who were randomly assigned to the intervention group (319) or the control group (322). The subjects were recruited from Canada, the United Kingdom and 21 U.S. states between 2005 and 2007. The intervention group received a 12-month, home-based program of telephone counseling and mailed materials that promoted exercise, improved nutrition, and modest weight loss. The control group was wait-listed for 12 months before undergoing the program.

All subjects in the study responded to several questionnaires at baseline and at 12 months in order to measure physical function, lower extremity function, and general health and quality of life. These questionnaires assessed the impact of health on the performance of various activities ranging from basic self-care to more vigorous activity.

The results indicated that the control group experienced more than twice the decline of the intervention group in overall physical function. Furthermore, the lower extremity function in the control group declined significantly more than that of the intervention group. The intervention group reported an increase in targeted behaviors such as strength exercise, endurance exercise, and intake of fruits and vegetables. In addition, the intervention group reported a better overall quality of life.

The researchers concluded that a diet and exercise intervention among older, long-term survivors of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer reduced the rate of functional decline in this population.


[1] Morey MC, Snyder DC, Sloane R, et al. Effects of home-based diet and exercise on functional outcomes among older, overweight long-term cancer survivors. JAMA. 2009; 301: 1883-1891.

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