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By Babita Jyoti, M.D.

04/23/2018

Nutrition & Regular Activity Boosts Colorectal Cancer Survival Rates

Improving survivorship is a critical part of the management of patients with a cancer diagnosis. I believe a holistic approach to cancer and after cancer care is vital.

A recent article published in JAMA Oncology showed that Stage III colon cancer patients who followed the American Cancer Society's Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors upon diagnosis had improved disease-free survival and overall survival, according to the CALGB 89803/Alliance trial.

The study followed 992 patients with colon cancer and discovered that those who adhered to the ACS guidelines by maintaining a healthy weight, participating in regular physical activity and consuming a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, lowered their risk of overall and cancer-related mortality.

The researchers assigned each patient an ACS guidelines score between 0 and 6 based on body mass index, physical activity level, and intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and red and processed meats. Patients with healthier behaviors received higher scores. “Lifestyle scores” were also assigned from 0 to 8, based on alcohol intake and other lifestyle behaviors.

This study showed a 9% absolute reduction in risk of death at 5 years for stage III patients with an ASC score of 5 or 6, compared to those with scores of 0 to 4. The 9% of patients with the best ACS guideline scores were found to have a 42% lower risk of death and higher disease-free survival during the study period than patients with the poorest ACS scores.

When alcohol consumption was factored in, patients with the highest ACS guideline scores had adjusted hazard ratios of 0.49 for overall survival, 0.58 for disease-free survival and 0.64 for recurrence-free survival.

There is extensive evidence that colon cancer patients who follow the ACS guidelines can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and boost vitamin D levels. These biomarkers have all been linked to colorectal cancer survival.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. in both men and women. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates 97,220 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed.

Cancer research is vital because it allows us to study methods of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment to discern the most effective options. Clinical trials such as this one that focus on lifestyle changes outline obtainable ways patients can participate in improving survival.

Ackerman Cancer Center offers many support services for patients during treatment through survivorship. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition and wellness during or after cancer treatment, please reach out to Ackerman Cancer Center’s Oncology Wellness Specialist, Karen Alexander.

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