For weight control and good health – including cancer prevention – you likely know that physical activity is a good thing. What is less well known is how physical activity can help cancer survivors. But increasingly, it appears that it does.
One of the latest studies showing physical activities’ benefits among survivors focuses on prostate cancer.
The study found that men who walked briskly for three hours per week after their prostate cancer diagnoses had a lower risk of cancer progression.
It was published in Cancer Research, and you can read the abstract here.
Earlier this year, this same group of researchers found that activity after diagnosis reduced disease-related mortality in men with a certain type of prostate cancer. This new study focused on the effect of physical activity after diagnosis on early indicators of disease progression, such as a rise in PSA blood levels, along with treatment type, recurrence, and metastasis.
I just got back from Delaware where I gave the keynote at the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s Annual Breast Cancer Update, a conference attended by cancer survivors, health care professionals and others interested in breast cancer prevention. With so many ideas out there on how to make a positive difference for survivors – from dietary changes and exercise to supplements – it’s hard to know which steps are most likely to help (and which can possibly cause harm).
One of the physicians participating in a panel discussion noted that we need to look at both “the seeds and the soil”. That is, look at treatments that target any remaining cells that could be “seeds” for cancer recurrence, and also focus on how we can create “soil” – meaning an environment within our body – that does not support cancer cell growth.
Although weight gain and decreases in physical activity are common among breast cancer survivors, part of my presentation at the conference included studies showing that efforts to stop the gain and find ways to work in physical activity daily seem to deserve spots high on the priority list.
Moderate physical activity alone, without changes in diet, usually leads to only modest and slow weight loss. Conference participants were buzzing when they saw data showing that physical activity seems to have important protective effects quite soon, even without weight loss.
In September 2010, AICR published “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection” paper discussing the research on the link between these two diseases and how health professionals can counsel patients on lifestyle changes to lower risk of both.
Now several studies in the Journal of Clinical Oncology show how both type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance negatively impact prognosis in breast cancer patients. Those with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance do not fare as well as breast cancer patients who did not have those conditions.
An accompanying editorial discusses two simple procedures that health care providers should do for patients with breast cancer to improve outcomes.
1. Measure waist circumference. This simple measure may point to metabolic syndrome associated with type 2 diabetes and related risk factors.
2. Measure HOMA index (indicator of insulin resistance).
The authors of the editorial explain that with these measures, health care providers would be able to individualize a patient’s treatment to include diet and physical activity programs that are known to improve survival for many.
The editors give a call to action to integrate care of these two diseases:
“The time has come to overcome the conventional tunnel vision that results in two diseases being treated by separate clinicians, and to move towards a comprehensive approach that ideally integrates oncologists, internists, nutritionists, and other health care professionals in an attempt to improve breast cancer prognosis in a significant proportion of patients.” Read more… “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection: Breast Cancer”
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