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Exercise May Boost Survival in Breast, Colon Cancer Patients
Date:5/9/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Being physically active might lengthen the lives of people with breast and colon cancer, a new study suggests.

Exercise may also benefit patients with other cancers, but there is no substantial evidence to make that claim, the researchers added.

"We have lots of data that says physical activity after a cancer diagnosis is generally safe and is associated with many improvements in overall quality of life, and these data suggest that it may even be beneficial in terms of prolonging life," said lead researcher Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash, associate director of the applied research program in the division of cancer control and population science at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

"For many years, we have tended to think of a diagnosis of cancer being fatal, but as we are diagnosing people much earlier and receiving effective treatment, they're living for a long time with their cancer," she said.

Cancer is becoming more of a chronic disease, Ballard-Barbash explained.

"Because of that, many people actually are at risk for other chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, and physical activity is well known to be beneficial for these conditions," she added.

The report was published in the May 8 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

For the study, Ballard-Barbash's team analyzed 27 observational studies published between January 1950 and August 2011 that looked at cancer survival and physical activity.

The evidence of these benefits was strongest for breast cancer patients, where exercise significantly reduced death from all causes including breast cancer, the researchers found. Strong data also existed for improved survival among colon cancer patients.

The researchers also looked at other randomized controlled studies that suggested exercise benefited patients in
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