Many cancer survivors and astronauts have something in common: their bodies can experience years of aging after only a few month of treatment – or space flight. Exercise can help, says Jessica Scott, PhD, a Principal Investigator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Before focusing on cancer patients, Scott worked at the Johnson Space Center, helping astronauts keep their heart and muscles healthy. Here, she talks about the emerging field of exercise-oncology and how applying the research related to astronauts can help survivors prevent or slow accelerated aging.
The recently released Third Expert Report – Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective, concludes that daily physical activity provides a powerful protection against cancer. The report recommends individuals to achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week and for more protection to aim for 45 to 60 minutes per day. Another important part of the recommendation is “walk more and sit less.”
Getting regular physical activity is one of the ten recommendations in the report that altogether work as a lifestyle package for cancer prevention. Over the next several weeks we will break down the physical activity guidelines in the report to help you better understand what they mean for you and how you can apply them to your lifestyle and personal circumstances.
You’ve surely seen plenty of headlines proclaiming the Mediterranean Diet among the healthiest ways to eat. What does the research behind these headlines mean about potential to reduce your risk of cancer? We need to step in and look more closely at these studies, and also step back to view their findings as part of the big picture on what we know about eating habits and cancer risk.
Does a Mediterranean Diet reduce cancer risk?
A growing number of studies do link a Mediterranean pattern of eating with lower cancer risk. But it’s important to emphasize that this is compared to people with low scores for “Mediterranean” eating –which usually means they have eating habits that include more meat, refined grains and sweets. These studies do not establish Mediterranean diets as more protective than other healthy ways of eating.