Healthy Lifestyle After Colon Cancer Treatment Significantly Increases Long-Term Survival


Among patients diagnosed with stage III colon cancer, those who followed a healthy lifestyle after completing treatment, which included a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in red or processed meats, physical exercise, a healthy body weight, and moderate alcohol intake lived significantly longer than their counterparts who did not live a healthy lifestyle according to these variables. These results were presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Although it is well known that a healthy lifestyle including healthy nutrition, physical exercise, and no smoking is associated with improved health outcomes for individuals, its long-term impact on survival and outcome measures among colon cancer patients who have already completed treatment is not yet well known.

To further evaluate the issue of healthy lifestyles among cancer survivors, researchers recently conducted a study including nearly 1,000 patients with stage III colon cancer who underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy. Patients were assessed on their lifestyle for a median of 7 years. The variables assessed were the following: intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, red meat and processed meat; physical activity; healthy body weight; and alcohol intake.

• At a median of 7 years follow-up, patients who tended to have a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, a low intake of red and processed meats, those who involved physical activity in their lives, and those with a healthy body weight had a 42% reduced risk of death, compared to those who tended to have a lower intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and a higher intake of red and processed meats, those who did not include much physical activity in their lives, and those outside of a healthy body weight.

• When alcohol intake was taken into consideration in addition to the other stated variables, excessive amounts of alcohol also appeared to increase the risk of death compared to no or moderate alcohol intake levels.
The results from this stud indicate that a healthy lifestyle significantly affects long-term survival among patients treated for stage III colon cancer. Cancer survivors should speak with their healthcare providers regarding their lifestyle habits.

Reference: Van Blarigan E, Fuchs C, Niedzwiecki, et al. American Cancer Society (ACS) Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines after colon cancer diagnosis and disease-free (DFS), recurrence-free (RFS), and overall survival (OS) in CALGB 89803 (Alliance). Proceedings from the 2017 annual meeting of the American Clinical Society of Oncology. Abstract 10006. Available at: