Want to help beat colon cancer? Live healthy

April 12, 2018 by E.j. Mundell, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—More than 1.3 million Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer, but new research suggests that adopting a healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward boosting survival.

The study followed nearly 1,000 patients with advanced colon cancer for an average of seven years.

It found that people who ate right and exercised had a 42 percent lower risk of dying during the study period, compared to those who had less healthy lifestyles.

The take-home message: "Having a health body weight, being physically active, and eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains after a diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer was associated with a longer survival," the researchers reported April 12 in the journal JAMA Oncology.

The new research was led by Erin Van Blarigan, from the University of California, San Francisco. She and her colleagues noted that in 2001, the American Cancer Society published guidelines advocating a during and after colon cancer treatment.

But does healthy living really make a difference with survival?

To find out, Van Blarigan's team tracked outcomes for 992 colon cancer patients who enrolled in a chemotherapy trial from 1999 through 2001. The participants' health—and levels of nutrition and exercise—were then followed until 2016-2017.

People who most closely adhered to the lifestyle recommendations on diet and exercise fared much better in terms of survival, the data showed. And when the researchers took into account healthy alcohol intake, patients did even better—a 51 percent reduction in death risk during the study period.

Writing in an accompanying editorial, a team of cancer specialists led by Dr. Michael Fisch of AIM Specialty Health in Chicago said the findings confirm the power of healthy living for cancer patients.

Their advice to doctors? If there was any uncertainty before about whether or not to urge patients to eat right and exercise, the new findings "should put those concerns to rest."

The experts stressed, however, that a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming for patients, and improving lifestyles in such a context is often easier said than done.

Still, the new findings "strengthen the call to take aim at extending and improving lives for cancer survivors through changing behaviors related to nutrition and physical activity."

Dr. Jeffrey Farma is associate professor of surgical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He said that far from being a secondary consideration, a "focus on improving lifestyle through nutrition and activity are moving to the forefront of a lot of cancer-related research for all stages of treatment."

And while the new study is encouraging, "there is still much work to be done to further validate these intriguing findings," said Farma, who wasn't involved with the research.

Specifically, what's needed is "for us to look at ways to integrate and support health and changes into our practices in treating all ," he said.

Explore further: Eating right and exercising could reduce the risk of colon cancer coming back

More information: Jeffrey Farma, M.D., F.A.C.S., associate professor, surgical oncology, program director, Surgical Oncology Fellowship, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; April 12, 2018, JAMA Oncology

Find out more about life after colon cancer at the American Cancer Society.

Related Stories

Eating right and exercising could reduce the risk of colon cancer coming back

May 18, 2017
Colon cancer patients who have a healthy body weight, exercise regularly and eat a diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables have a significantly lower risk of cancer recurrence or death, according to a research team ...

Nut consumption may aid colon cancer survival

February 28, 2018
People with stage III colon cancer who regularly eat nuts are at significantly lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality than those who don't, according to a new, large study led by researchers at Yale Cancer Center.

Keep colon cancer at bay

March 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—Colon cancer can be treated and cured if it's diagnosed early, and a colonoscopy is one of the best ways to detect the disease, a gastroenterologist says.

Adjuvant chemotherapy in early-stage colon cancer may improve survival

July 15, 2016
Researchers and physicians have grappled with the role of "adjuvant," or post-surgery, chemotherapy for patients with early-stage colon cancer, even for cancers considered high risk. Now researchers from the University of ...

Study ties red and processed meats to worse colon cancer survival

July 2, 2013
(HealthDay)—People with colon cancer who continue to eat a lot of red and processed meats may have increased odds of dying from the disease, a new study suggests.

Forgoing chemo linked to worse survival in older patients with advanced colon cancer who had dementia

September 22, 2017
A pre-existing diagnosis of dementia was associated with increased risk of death for older patients with advanced colon cancer; however, some of the effects of dementia on survival could be mediated by receipt of chemotherapy.

Recommended for you

Surgery unnecessary for many prostate cancer patients

December 13, 2018
Otherwise healthy men with advanced prostate cancer may benefit greatly from surgery, but many with this diagnosis have no need for it. These conclusions were reached by researchers after following a large group of Scandinavian ...

Combining three treatment strategies may significantly improve melanoma treatment

December 12, 2018
A study by a team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigator finds evidence that combining three advanced treatment strategies for malignant melanoma—molecular targeted therapy, immune checkpoint blockade ...

An integrated approach to finding new treatments for breast cancer

December 12, 2018
Unraveling the complexity of cancer biology can lead to the identification new molecules involved in breast cancer and prompt new avenues for drug development. And proteogenomics, an integrated, multipronged approach, seems ...

New insight into stem cell behaviour highlights therapeutic target for cancer treatment

December 12, 2018
Research led by the University of Plymouth and Technische Universität Dresden has identified a new therapeutic target for cancer treatment and tissue regeneration – a protein called Prominin-1.

Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

December 12, 2018
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth—this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel's Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, ...

Researchers use computer model to predict prostate cancer progression

December 12, 2018
An international team of cancer researchers from Denmark and Germany have used cancer patient data to develop a computer model that can predict the progression of prostate cancer. The model is currently being implemented ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.