Exercise, weight loss reduces cancer risk says study
A large trial is being launched this summer to establish whether diet and exercise regimes should be prescribed by doctors for women who have had breast cancer in the same way that they prescribe drugs, to prevent the disease returning and potentially save lives.
Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of breast cancer. But accumulating evidence suggests that becoming fitter and losing some pounds after a diagnosis could cut the chances of a recurrence and even lower the risk of death.
A number of small studies looking at the benefits of exercise and weight loss on cancer by researchers at Yale University in the US are being presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting (ASCO) in Chicago.
Prof Melinda Irwin, associate director at Yale Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health said: “We found a strong connection between exercise after diagnosis and mortality afterwards.
“Most interestingly, it showed the impact on changes in activity on mortality – even if you’ve never been active before taking regular exercise seemed to show a great impact.”
The studies followed women who went on a diet and started taking exercise after cancer but they did not randomly assign women to a fitness regime or not, so it is possible those who did well were also better at taking their drug treatment.
“They show that losing weight and taking up exercise have a significant effect on the biomarkers of cancer. They are showing that it’s causal – that by changing activity or weight loss it could improve your prognosis. This is crucial.”