Saturday, May 5, 2012

RX for Cancer Survivors: Healthy diet and exercise

Steamed fish and green salad

The American Cancer Society urges cancer survivors to exercise more and improve their diets to help prevent the disease from coming back.  The society recommends the following:

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. 

Fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

Recent reviews suggest that food choices may affect risk for recurrence and overall survival among survivors. The majority of these studies have focused on breast cancer, but more evidence has also emerged for colon and prostate cancer survivors. 

Similar to what we've seen for cancer prevention, it looks like it's the overall dietary pattern that is important for cancer survivorship -it's not one food, or even one food group, that makes the difference.  It's likely the combination of many different nutrients coming from many different foods --working together -- that offers the best protection. 

Studies suggest that the best protection comes from a diet that:

- Is high in fruits, vegetables and, whole grains

- Includes more fish and poultry instead of red and processed meats

- Includes low fat instead of full-fat dairy products

- Includes nuts and olive oil instead of less healthy sources of fat, such as butter or trans fats found in many processed snack foods

The bottom line

Do we have all the answers related to nutrition, physical activity, and cancer survivorship? No. But do we have enough information and evidence to recommend that anyone who's been diagnosed with cancer should strive to be at a healthy weight, live a physically active lifestyle, and add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to their meals and snacks?  Absolutely.  It's an important message that I'm sharing with everyone I know who has been diagnosed with any kind of cancer.  

Read more here.

Tropical fruit platter


Food Trip Friday

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  1. I really have to eat more fruit and veggies, great post!

  2. Very healthy entry for FTF. I also read an article that cancer can be cured through diet. Very interesting since chemotherapy and other procedures for cancer are expensive yet it can be cured just eating the right food :)

    I really hope I could quit drinking colored drinks like soda and coffee :(

    Thanks for the visit!

  3. Nice article, and something more people should do on a daily basis regardless of whether they have cancer. We in the US have very unhealthy eating habits. Thanks for visiting my blog. I just started following yours. Very nice articles and photography. Have a great week-end.

  4. what a healthy foods for every ones health :-) I love fish and the mix veggies are just perfect for dessert :-) Returning from FTF

  5. A healthy diet, specific anti-cancer foods and exercise are essential both as cancer-preventing and ancillary cancer treatment regimes.