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Physical Activity Improves Survival in Colon Cancer

Researchers at the American Cancer Society report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that patients who have been diagnosed with colon cancer without spread of the tumor have a lower risk of dying if they stay physically active. The protective effect of exercise against death did not cover only those related to cancer, but also death from other causes. Although there was no cause-and-effect seen between exercise and improved survival rates in the study, experts think that the results show that it is always better to exercise than to be sedentary.

Peter Campbell, director of the society’s Tumor Repository and lead researcher for the study, and his colleagues collected data on almost 2,300 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer without metastasis (spread). They followed up the patients for about 16 years and report that more than 800 died, half of which were due to the disease and others from different causes. Evaluation of the data revealed that patients who exercised the most were about 28% less likely to die compared to those who exercised less. On the other hand, patients who were more sedentary and sat for at least six hours a day had a 36% higher risk of dying compared to those who sat less than 3 hours a day.

Campbell suggests that people who exercise more may be developing less aggressive tumors. Exercise may also help them as they undergo cancer treatment, by increasing muscular and cardiovascular fitness, which can lead to better tolerance of treatments.

Although more studies need to be done to confirm these suggestions, the authors state that their results are consistent with findings about the benefits of physical activity and the hazards of sitting for prolonged periods, even in non-cancer patients.


Reinberg, S. Too Much Sitting May Lower Odds of Surviving Colon Cancer. HealthDay.



Posted in: Cancer, Colon Cancer, News Briefs

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