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Cancer survivors who stay active live longer than their sedentary peers

Published on October 21, 2016 at 14:43 / Updated on April 23, 2021 at 15:08

Could going for regular walks improve cancer survivors’ odds of living a longer life? It might! According to an analysis conducted by a team of researchers, exercise can lower survivors’ risk of premature death, not only from cancer but from any cause.

The group analyzed 45 studies that dealt with physical activity among people who’d been diagnosed with cancer. The studies included individuals who had suffered from various types of tumours, breast cancer in particular. The researchers found that almost every study, regardless of the methodology used, concluded that regular exercise decreases the risk of mortality from cancer and all other causes. In other words, people who exercise regularly after cancer have a lower risk not only of having a recurrence of their cancer, but also of dying prematurely from chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Some doctors are reluctant to recommend physical activity in cancer patients because they worry that exercise might exacerbate the fatigue some patients experience during remission. The findings of this analysis show that exercise does not exacerbate fatigue. A very recent study also supports this finding – its researchers found that cancer survivors who exercise regularly appear to have a lower risk of suffering from fatigue and have a better quality of life than sedentary survivors. Exercise does not need to be vigorous to produce benefits: the most common activity among the participants in the studies was walking, an activity accessible to almost anyone.

Gradually integrating physical activity, with the treating physician’s approval, therefore appears to be beneficial to cancer survivors and should be encouraged within the scope of the individual’s physical abilities.

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