We’ve all been told that we should exercise and eat right. Research to be reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting shows that a healthy lifestyle matters. That’s true even after a person has been diagnosed with colon cancer. The findings should motivate many of us to clean up our act.
Colon Cancer Patients Who Exercise and Eat Right:
In one study, almost 1,000 people undergoing chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer answered questions about dietary and exercise habits. The investigators scored their responses based on how well they met the American Cancer Society nutrition and physical activity guidelines. These urge us to eat lots of plant-based foods and limit our processed meat servings. We should choose whole rather than refined grains and consume alcohol in small quantities if at all. The guidelines also recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity.
Not quite 10 percent of these volunteers had healthful exercise and eating patterns that conformed to the guidelines. They also maintained a healthy body weight.
How Did People Who Exercise and Eat Right Fare?
Over the seven years of follow-up, that conscientious group was 42 percent less likely to die. They were also 31 percent less likely to have their colon cancer recur than people who didn’t follow a healthy lifestyle.
When the scientists factored in moderate alcohol consumption, the diligent patients were 51 percent less likely to have a recurrence or to die of their cancer. They had longer disease-free and overall survival than the other cancer patients in the study.
At the same conference, other investigators will present data showing that people who include nuts in their diets do better after a colon cancer diagnosis. People who ate at least two servings of tree nuts a week were much less likely to die or have their cancer recur. Peanuts and peanut butter didn’t make any difference, though. So if you are a cancer patient trying to exercise and eat right, focus on almonds, walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts rather than peanut butter.