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Want To Reduce The Risk Of Death From Colon Cancer? Healthy Lifestyle Could Help

19 May 2017, 6:27 am EDT By Andrew Norman Tech Times
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A new study indicated that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet will reduce colon cancer death risk. The researchers also emphasized the importance of medical treatment for colon cancer.  ( Cindy Ord | Getty Images )

A new cohort study suggests that a healthy lifestyle reduces colon cancer death risk. Patients who followed strict recommendations related to physical activity, diet, and alcohol consumption showed further improvement with regard to colon cancer survival.

Moreover, a related analysis linked to the main study also showed that consumption of tree nuts significantly improves an individual's survival chances post colon cancer therapy.

"We found that patients who had a healthy body weight; engaged in regular physical activity; ate a diet high in vegetables, fruits, [and] whole grains and low in processed meats and red meats; and drank small to moderate amounts of alcohol had longer disease-free and overall survival than patients who did not," Erin Van Blarigan, lead study author noted.

Healthy Lifestyle Reduces Colon Cancer Death Risk: Study And Results

To determine whether healthy lifestyle and dietary plan reduce colon cancer death risk, the researchers decided to study an old trial — CALGB 89803 — which was compiled and published a decade ago. This trial compared various chemotherapy practices to assess their effect on cancer survivors.

The data collected during the trial contained testimonies of patients with Stage III colorectal cancer, collected with the help of questionnaires during and after the completion of a chemotherapy regimen. Lifestyle assessment was conducted at two different times with the help of validated surveys.

Alcohol consumption guidelines are included in the American Cancer Society's cancer prevention policies, but not for cancer survivors. To overcome this hurdle, Blarigan and her team assessed the scores with and without alcohol use. To measure adherence to its guidelines, ACS has a scoring system where zero is the lowest score and six the highest. The higher the score, the healthier the behavior.

The researchers found that a healthy lifestyle and diet reduced colon cancer death risk during follow-up period. The study revealed that during the course of the seven-year follow-up period, 332 cases of cancer reoccurrence existed and 299 patients succumbed to death. Out of the patients who died, 43 did not have colon cancer relapse.

However, 42 percent of the patients who followed a healthy lifestyle saw a decrease in colon cancer death risk. When the researchers factored in moderate alcohol consumption to their analysis, then the colon cancer death risk further reduced by 15 percent.

The researchers have begun conducting clinical trials to assess the possibility and viability of digital lifestyle intervention, such as fitness trackers like FitBit to act as a monitoring equipment for people suffering from colon cancer.

"If our interventions are acceptable and useful to patients, we will test their impact on risk of cancer recurrence and mortality in future studies," Blarigan added.

Monitoring Does Not Replace Treatment

Although the study proves that a healthy lifestyle reduces colon cancer death risk, Daniel F. Hayes, president of American Society of Clinical Oncology or ASCO, remarked that treatment is necessary to counter colon cancer. A healthy lifestyle and diet coupled with proper medical treatment are two sides of the same coin if a patient wants to survive the disease.

He emphasized the importance and necessity of chemotherapy if recommended by the oncologist.

"Nobody wants to undergo chemotherapy. We understand that, but chemotherapy clearly saves lives," Hayes explained.

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