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Can a Healthy Lifestyle Improve Survival in Colon Cancer Survivors?

By: Sara Tewksbury
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Survivors of stage III colon cancer may live longer if they follow the American Cancer Society’s Nutritional and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors (ACS Guidelines), according to a study by Erin L. Van Blarigan, ScD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues. Maintaining a healthy weight; being physically active; and eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains were linked with longer survival, in the CALGB 89803/Alliance trial.

This study analyzed the lifestyle of 992 patients who were treated with adjuvant chemotherapy from 1999 to 2001. Data from the present analysis were from November 2016 to November 2017. A score was given on a scale of 0 to 6 based on a patient’s body mass index, physical activity, and nutritional intake. Higher numbers indicated healthier habits. A score was also based on the intake of alcohol in relation to the other factors, on a score of 0 to 8 (with 0 meaning more than 1 drink/day for women or more than 2 drinks/day for men and 8 indicating complete concordance with the ACS guidelines plus low to moderate alcohol consumption).

At a median follow-up of 7 years, there were 335 recurrences and 299 deaths. The investigators found that patients with an ACS guideline score of between 5 and 6 (n = 91) had a 42% lower risk of survival than those with a score of between 0 and 1 (n = 262) as well as improved disease-free survival. In addition, for patients who consumed low to moderate amounts of alcohol, a nonstatistically significant decreased risk of death was observed, which was not the case for heavy drinkers.

“The 5-year survival probability was 85% for patients with high concordance with the guidelines and 76% for patients with low concordance with the guidelines, a 9% absolute reduction in risk of death at 5 years,” reported Dr. Blarigan and colleagues.

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