Does Exercise Help Cancer Patients and Survivors?

There’s consistent and solid evidence that physical activity reduces risk of several cancers — such as colorectal and postmenopausal breast. Data is not as strong when it comes to survival but it’s growing, especially for breast and colorectal survivors.Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 12.23.16pm

That’s the latest from expert Christine Friedenreich, who led off the presentations about physical activity’s effect on survivorship at our research conference today.

Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are considered the gold standard of studies, which would compare a random group of survivors who follow an exercise intervention to those not doing it. Currently, we don’t have RCTs but there is observational evidence showing benefits, said Friedenreich.

Exercise may supply its benefits in a number of ways: It may help patients complete their treatment or it could help control harms of the therapy. Animal studies suggest exercise may also help the therapy get to the tumor by improving blood flow.

But can the course of exercise alter the course of the disease? Two major studies highlighted will hopefully provide some answers. One is ALBERTA a major observational study focusing on exercise and breast cancer survivors. Then CHALLENGE is a randomized control trial investigating exercise among colon cancer survivors.

Here’s the guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine on exercise for survivors.

And here’s the latest on our CUP report that came out this month on survival and breast cancer.


Talking about Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Survivors

There are now over 3 million US breast cancer survivors, with the number of survivors only expected to increase in the years ahead. Today, a new report identified potential links oxn how diet, activity, and weight may affect survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer. McTiernan, Anne

Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Survivors is part of an ongoing, systematic review called the Continuous Update Project (CUP). It’s the most rigorous analysis of the research on diet, weight and physical activity for breast cancer survivors, and it’s the first time a CUP report has focused on survivorship.

Here, Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, the panel lead of this CUP report and researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, talks about the report’s findings and what it means.

Q: What did the CUP report look at?

A: The report looked at associations between specific diet patterns and components, weight, and physical activity with mortality from all causes, mortality from breast cancer, and incidence of secondary breast cancer. This report did not look at associations of diet, physical activity, or weight with quality of life, fatigue and many other issues in which lifestyle factors may play a role. Continue reading


Like Many, Black and White Breast Cancer Survivors May Need to Exercise More

Like most American women (and men), most breast cancer survivors may also not be exercising enough to reap its many health benefits, suggests a new study. Yet it’s African American survivors who are even less likely to meet the activity recommendations compared to white women.Young Woman In White Sneakers Walking Outdoors

The study was published today in Cancer. It’s important because a lot of research has linked regular physical activity among survivors to to better health and longer lives.

AICR recommends that survivors follow the same activity recommendations as for prevention. Here’s a few examples of studies that have found how activity benefits survivors.

In this study, about 1,700 women diagnosed with breast cancer reported their activity habits both before their diagnosis and six months afterwards. The women ranged in age from 20 to 74, and about half were African American. Researchers converted the women’s activity habits into a common unit of measure: metabolic equivalent hours (METs).

Six months after diagnosis, 59 percent of all the patients reported being less active. Only about one-third of women reported they were active at least 150 minutes per week compared to 60 percent before diagnosis. Continue reading