Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and author of an accompanying journal editorial, said that "even though direct cancer effects of physical activity are not definitively proven, given that physical activity is generally safe, improves quality of life for cancer patients and has numerous other health benefits, adequate physical activity should be a standard part of cancer care."
"The vast majority of cancer patients will likely benefit to some degree from physical activity," he added.
Few factors have shown as much promise in extending the lives of cancer survivors, Giovannucci wrote.
"Many treatments may increase survival, but at a cost of quality of life; physical activity may not only extend life but also enhances its quality," he added.
Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator of the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital, in Derby, Conn., said that "we have evidence to suggest that physical activity not only improves survival of people living with cancer, but it also decreases the risk of many other chronic diseases."
"Conversely, physical inactivity has been associated with many cancers including breast, colon, prostate, pancreas and melanoma," she said.
Because of certain chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments for cancer, survivors may be at an increased risk of additional cancers and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Heller said.
"Therefore, a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and a healthy diet is essential for survivors to reduce the risk of cancer recurrences and other diseases," she said.
Regular physical activity also improves sleep, psychological and emotional well-being and helps manage stress, Heller said.
All rights reserved