Colleen Doyle of the American Cancer Society said when she talks with people diagnosed with cancer, they tend to ask three things: "What can I do to reduce the chance that my cancer will come back? What can I do to help me not develop some other kind of cancer? How can I help my family reduce their risk for cancer?"
"For many years, answering questions two and three was a cinch. We've known for years that for people who don't smoke, the most important ways to reduce their risk of cancer are to strive to be at a healthy weight, live a physically active lifestyle, eat a diet made up mostly of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and watch how much alcohol is consumed -- if any, at all," Doyle said in a statement.
"Answers about how to reduce the risk of recurrence were not as clear. But, over the last several years, evidence has accumulated for a number of cancers that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough physical activity and eating a healthy diet can reduce the chance of recurrence and increase the likelihood of disease-free survival after a diagnosis of cancer."
For example, among breast cancer survivors, a recent analysis showed that getting exercise after diagnosis was associated with a 34 percent lower risk of breast cancer deaths, a 41 percent lower risk of dying from all causes, and a 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence.
The society's recommendations, and those of the American College of Sports Medicine, encourage survivors to aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, and to include strength training exercises at least two days per week.