Colorectal Cancer: Being Physically Active is Better

Colorectal Cancer: Being Physically Active is Better

A study published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in March of this year and sponsored by the American Cancer Society has reported that patients with localized colorectal (large bowel ) cancer had improved overall survival with increased physical activity; whereas a more sedentary lifestyle was associated with reduced survival.

In this study, participants completed detailed questionnaires regarding their physical activities and leisure time before and after being diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum. There were 3 categories of activity -walking less than 1 hr/wk, walking 1 to less than 2.5 hrs/wk and 2.5 hrs or more walking/week. Leisure time categories were sitting less than 3 hrs/day, 3 to less than 6 hrs/day and 6 or more hours/day. Patients were followed over an extended period of time (up to 16.1 years).

In patients with the highest activity level, there was a 42% reduced risk of death from all causes. In patients who reported sitting for 6 or more hours/day, there was a 62% increased risk of dying from complications related to colorectal cancer.

The authors acknowledged certain limitations of the study, but concluded that physicians should consider counseling colorectal cancer survivors to adopt a physically active life style aiming to achieve 2.5 hrs or more of moderate intensity activity per week, such as walking, and to avoid prolonged sitting.

I have to admit that in my practice, I need to be more proactive in talking to my patients about the benefits of physical activity and better understand the obstacles to a less sedentary lifestyle.