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Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer

Exercise benefited men whose disease had been treated, hadn't spread, study finds

MONDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise appears to reduce the risk of death in male colon cancer survivors, researchers report.

The study, which began in January 1986, included 668 men who'd been treated for stage I, stage II or stage III colon cancer that had not spread (nonmetastatic cancer). Every two years, the men were sent questionnaires that asked them about any new cancer and disease diagnoses, as well as their physical activity. A metabolic equivalent task (MET) score was matched to each type of physical activity, with exercises that burned more energy receiving higher MET scores.

During the study period, which ended in January 2006, 258 of the participants died, including 88 who died from colon cancer.

"Men who were physically active after diagnosis of nonmetastatic colorectal cancer experienced a significantly decreased risk of colorectal cancer-specific death, as well as death from any cause," wrote Dr. Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues.

"Men who engaged in more than 27 MET hours per week had more than 50 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer-specific mortality compared with inactive men. This association was consistently detected regardless of age, disease stage, body-mass index, diagnosis year, tumor location and prediagnosis physical activity," the study authors reported in the Dec. 14/28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"These results provide further support that physical activity after colorectal cancer diagnosis may lower the risk of death from that disease," the researchers concluded. "A randomized study among high-risk stage II and stage III colon cancer survivors that will compare the use of general education materials with a program that includes supervised physical activity sessions and behavioral support delivered over three years will soon open; the primary endpoint is disease-free survival. The findings from the present study further support that effort."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about colorectal cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Dec. 14/28, 2009

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