Washington, Apr 21 : Obesity and inactivity can increase the risk of health problems among cancer survivors, including cancer recurrence, says a new study.
Lead researcher Dr. Kerry Courneya, professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and affiliated scientist with the Centre for Behavioural Research and Program Evaluation reviewed the data of 2005 Community Health Survey involving more than 114,000 adults.
"These findings tell us that we need to look at ways to better support cancer survivors to become more active and to maintain a healthy body weight," said Dr Courneya.
"We know that physical inactivity and obesity are risk factors for developing cancer. These are also risk factors for the recurrence of cancer. Lifestyle is just as important after diagnosis.
Heather Chappell, senior manager of Cancer Control Policy at the Canadian Cancer Society said that cancer diagnosis can have a profound effect on people and their families
"These important findings will help in developing ways to provide effective support for cancer patients. Even small changes can make a difference for patients, such as including a moderate amount of exercise and healthy eating in their treatment and recovery period, if and when they can," he added.
The findings revealed that only about 21 per cent of cancer survivors were physically active and 18 per cent of report being obese, compared to about 15 per cent of Canadians in general.
Also 34 per cent of cancer survivors report being overweight and 53 per cent of all the cancer survivors, or one in two survivors, were overweight or obese, compared to 52 per cent of Canadians in general;
Among the male cancer survivors 62 per cent of the cancer survivors were more likely to be overweight or obese than female survivors (47 pct)
The lowest levels of physical activity were among colorectal cancer survivors, breast cancer survivors and female melanoma survivors;
The highest levels of physical activity and lowest levels of obesity were among prostate cancer survivors, while skin cancer survivors were also more active than the general population.
"It's a challenge for all of us to eat properly and exercise, and it may be especially challenging for cancer survivors who have been through difficult treatments and may have lingering health issues," said Dr. Courneya.
"But eating well and exercising are two of the best things we can do for our mental and physical health, even in trying times. Rest is rarely the best medicine for any health condition," he added.
The study is published in journal Cancer.