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Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle

Study finds just 7 percent of older survivors meet diet, exercise guidelines

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Most older, long-term cancer survivors struggle with good health habits, such as regular exercise and a proper diet, a new study shows.

Those who did exercise and eat well after their treatment, however, tended to have more vitality and a better quality of life, the study also found.

The report, from researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, is published online and in the Sept. 1 print issue of Cancer.

"Our findings point to the potential negative impact of obesity and the positive effect of regular exercise and a healthy diet on physical quality of life outcomes among older, long-term cancer survivors," Catherine Mosher, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Sloan-Kettering, said in a news release from the American Cancer Society.

Mosher and her colleagues examined data from more than 750 people who had survived breast, prostate or colorectal cancer for five years or more. All were 65 or older.

Most people expressed interest in pursuing healthy habits, but only 7 percent actually met national guidelines for exercise and diet. The majority reported exercising an average of 10 minutes a week -- far short of the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week, the study said. Obese survivors had worse physical quality of life.

People aged 65 and older make up more than half of the estimated 11 million cancer survivors in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Numerous studies have linked healthy lifestyle choices with better outcomes after a cancer diagnosis. In one recent study, people who had head and neck cancer appeared to have better survival if they exercised, improved their diet and avoided smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on healthy lifestyle choices.

-- Peter West

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, July 27, 2009

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