Nutrition and Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors
New research finds many
cancer survivors are
obese and not physically active,
which could make it harder to keep their cancer under control.
Researchers in Canada analyzed data from more than 114,000 adults. They found
fewer than 22 percent of Canadian
cancer survivors were
physically active -- the
lowest rates were in men and women who had survived
breast cancer. Results also show nearly one in five
cancer survivors was obese, and one in three was
Fewer than 22% of the cancer survivors were physically
active, over 18% were obese (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 30 kg/m2),
and another 34% were overweight (BMI 25–30 kg/m2).
In the light of the above findings, WF team of health experts bring you
information related to help cancer survivors and their families make informed
choices related to
nutrition and physical activity.
For survivors at risk for unintentional
weight loss, including those who are
already malnourished or those who receive directed treatment to the
gastrointestinal tract, it is crucial to maintain energy balance or prevent
weight loss. Most cancer therapies, including surgery, radiation, and
chemotherapy, can significantly affect nutritional needs, eating habits, and
Individualized nutritional therapies may include:
For survivors with decreased appetite, consuming smaller, more frequent
meals without liquids can help increase
For survivors who cannot meet nutritional requirements through food alone,
fortified and commercially prepared or homemade nutrient-dense beverages or
foods may improve the energy and nutrient intake.
For survivors who are unable to meet their nutritional needs with these
means, other means of short-term nutritional support may include
pharmacotherapy, enteral nutrition via tube feeding, or intravenous parenteral
nutrition. However, using dietary supplements, such as
herbal preparations, during cancer treatment is still controversial. Folate
may interfere with the efficacy of methotrexate, and antioxidants may prevent
the cellular oxidative damage to cancer cells that are required for efficacy
of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Omega-3 fatty acids may have specific benefits for cancer survivors,
including reducing cachexia, improving quality of life, and perhaps enhancing
the effects of some forms of treatment.
Adequate protein intake is essential during all stages of cancer
treatment, recovery, and long-term survival.
Whole grains and whole-grain food products are preferred to refined
Higher vegetables and fruit intake have been specifically associated with
a reduced incidence of cancer at several sites, including the colorectum,
stomach, lung, oral cavity, and esophagus. It is reasonable to recommend that
cancer survivors adopt the general recommendations issued by the ACS for
cancer prevention to eat at least five servings of a variety of vegetables and
fruit each day.
Persons receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy who are already on an
exercise program may need temporarily to
exercise at a lower
progress at a slower pace, but the principal goal should be to maintain activity
as much as possible.
Resistance exercise may improve bone strength and decrease
stretching exercise may improve
range of motion
cancer survivors with lymph edema. In general, exercise programs may reduce
depression, improve mood, boost self-esteem, and reduce fatigue.
Physically active” is defined as the equivalent of one hour of
walking a day,
“moderately active” is equal to 30 minutes a day and “inactive” is less than 30
minutes of walking a day.
“Obese” is defined as having a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher. (BMI
is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared).
“Overweight” is defined as having a BMI of 25 or higher.