New guidelines help cancer survivors exercise and eat better
Posted By Daniel Pendick On May 3, 2012
Surviving cancer was once a challenging achievement. Today, more than 12 million Americans are cancer survivors, and many live long after their diagnoses. New guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) offer them science-based advice for eating better and staying active—two keys to healthy living for cancer survivors and everyone else. The report, called Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors, is available for free from the ACS website.
The guidelines define a survivor as “anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of their life.” According to the ACS, one in every 25 Americans is a cancer survivor.
The evidence is reasonably solid that people who have been treated for cancer live longer if they exercise, says Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert on the health benefits of exercise. “The evidence for exercise extending survival after cancer therapy is promising. There have been about half dozen studies on this, for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers,” says Dr. Lee. A healthy diet helps, too. (An earlier Harvard Health blog describes some of the mental and emotional challenges that cancer survivors face.)
Many cancer survivors look to diet and exercise in the hope of preventing recurrence of their disease, extending their lifespans, or just feeling better after a rigorous course of treatment.
To help them do this, the ACS assembled a group of experts to review and summarize what science had to say about the role of diet and exercise for cancer survivors. It turns out that the same things that prevent cancer from developing in the first place also help keep it from coming back.
The ACS guidelines provide specific advice for survivors of a variety of major cancers: prostate, colorectal, lung, breast, ovarian, endometrial, upper GI, head and neck, and hematologic. Here are some highlights:
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