New healthy living guidelines for cancer survivors

American Cancer Society Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

Over the last several years, evidence has accumulated for a number of cancers that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough physical activity, and eating a healthy diet can reduce the chance of recurrence and increase the likelihood of disease-free survival after a diagnosis of cancer.

Big news.

Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Extra weight is linked to increased risk of the cancer coming back and decreased survival rates among breast, prostate, and colorectal (colon) cancer survivors, and possibly others.  Being overweight is a risk factor for these 3 cancers (and others), and many people with cancer are over­weight at the time of diagnosis. For these survivors, setting lifelong goals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight are among the most important health-related goals that can be set. Healthy ways to control weight include:

Limiting high-calorie foods

Drinking fewer beverages high in fat and/or added sugar

Eating more low-calorie foods like vegetables and fruits

Adding more physical activity throughout the day

Be Active on a Regular Basis

Many studies have shown that being physically active has a tremendous impact on quality of life of cancer survivors. Now, studies have demonstrated that physical activity after cancer diagnosis is also associated with a lower  risk of the cancer coming back and improved overall survival among multiple cancer survivor groups, including breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancer.

Among breast cancer survivors, a recent analysis showed that getting exercise after diagnosis was associated with a 34% lower risk of breast cancer deaths, a 41% lower risk of dying from all causes, and a 24% lower risk of breast cancer recurrence. Among colon cancer survivors, studies suggest exercise cuts deaths from colon cancer and all causes, and cuts the risk of the cancer coming back by up to 50%.

Our recommendations, and those of the American College of Sports Medicine, encourage survivors to aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, and to include strength training exercises at least 2 days per week.  For survivors who have not been previously active, gradually working up to these recommendations is the way to go.  Read more

Source: American Cancer Society

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