Exercise and Cancer Mortality

  • John Saxton


Nearly 25 million people are alive today after being diagnosed with cancer during the last 5 years. Despite these encouraging statistics, there is a need to more fully understand the impact of lifestyle-modifiable factors, such as PA on cancer mortality. To date, no randomised controlled trials have investigated the effects of PA on cancer-specific mortality or all-cause mortality in cancer survivors. However, a number of prospective cohort studies have reported negative associations between PA and cancer mortality. The most compelling observational evidence of the survival benefits to be gained from a physically activity lifestyle has emanated from studies of post-diagnosis PA in breast and colorectal cancer survivors. These studies have shown clear inverse associations between post-diagnosis PA and survival, with the benefits being independent of age, gender, obesity and disease stage at diagnosis. Three of the four cohort studies of breast cancer survivors showed that women who are achieving the equivalent of 30 min of moderate intensity PA on five or more days of the week can halve their risk of mortality up to 8 years of follow-up. For colorectal cancer survivors, current evidence suggests that higher levels of PA are required to achieve similar benefits. Habitual exercise might also have a role to play in retarding PCa progression and in counteracting the increased risk of CV mortality in PCa patients. However, there is a need for further studies of other cancer populations and randomised controlled trials to provide more robust data on the frequency, intensity, duration and type of PA which confers the greatest survival benefits to patients recovering from different forms of cancer and associated treatments.


Breast Cancer Cancer Survivor Cancer Mortality Breast Cancer Survivor Breast Cancer Mortality 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Allied Health Professions, Faculty of Health, Queen’s BuildingUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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