Physical Activity Improves Survival of Men with Localized Colorectal Cancer

Posted on December 23rd, 2009 by

Men who report the most physical activity after a diagnosis of non-metastatic colorectal cancer have a lower risk of death than men who report the least activity. These results were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

There are over 10 million cancer survivors in the United States, and this number has increased steadily over the past decade. It is estimated that one in six individuals over the age of 65 are cancer survivors. Sixty percent of all cancer survivors are over the age of 65 years. The majority of patients diagnosed with cancer today are expected to be living in 5-10 years. The three largest survivor groups are those treated for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. There is a growing need to promote health and ensure the social, psychological, and economic well-being of cancer survivors and their families.

Some of the issues faced by cancer survivors include maintaining optimal physical and mental health, preventing disability, and managing late-effects related to cancer. However, researchers affiliated with the American Cancer Society have reported that few cancer survivors are following recommendations for lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and smoking cessation.

There is increasing evidence that physical activity and exercise programs improve the quality of life of cancer survivors, and may also improve cancer survival.

The current study evaluated cancer-specific and overall survival among 668 men with a history of Stage I-III colorectal cancer. The men were enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

  • Higher levels of physical activity improved both cancer-specific and overall survival. The most active men were roughly half as likely as the least active men to die of colorectal cancer
  • The benefit of physical activity persisted even after accounting for age, disease stage, body mass index, tumor location, and prediagnosis physical activity.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence that physical activity provides important benefits to cancer survivors.

Reference: Meyerhardt JA, Giovannucci EL, Ogino S, et al. Physical activity and male colorectal survival. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009;22:2102-2108.

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