Exercise linked to lower mortality risk across different cancer types
After a cancer diagnosis, the impact of exercise on cancer and non-cancer mortality among survivors, and whether the benefit of exercise differs depending on the cancer type, remains unclear. A recent study found that regular exercise can significantly reduce a cancer survivor’s risk of dying from cancer and other causes.
Data from 11,480 cancer survivors from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian cancer screening trial was analyzed. Exercise levels after diagnosis were examined and measured using a questionnaire. Statistical models were used to assess all-cause mortality (death due to any cause) and cancer and non-cancer mortality based on whether survivors met or did not meet exercise guidelines.
National exercise guidelines were defined as moderate intensity exercise 4 or more days per week with sessions lasting an average of 30 minutes or longer; and/or vigorous intensity exercise 2 or more days per week with sessions lasting an average of 20 minutes or longer.
62% of participants were considered non-exercisers (no exercise or exercise levels were below the national guidelines) and 38% were considered exercisers (meeting or surpassing national exercise guidelines). After an average follow-up of 16 years from diagnosis, 4665 deaths were documented – 1940 due to cancer and 2725 due to other causes.
Based on the study analyses, exercise consistent with the guidelines was linked to a 25% reduced risk of all-cause mortality compared to non-exercise, with benefits apparent within 5 years of diagnosis and lasting for at least 20 years after diagnosis. Compared to non-exercise, exercise consistent with the national guidelines was associated with a significant reduction (21%) in cancer mortality and a 28% reduction in mortality from other causes, with more exercise demonstrating a greater benefit on cancer-specific mortality risk.
Regular exercise following a cancer diagnosis is linked to a significantly reduced risk of dying from cancer and other causes.