Diet, Exercise and Cancer

Several dietary factors have been associated with the risk of colon cancer but their role in both development and in the recurrence of this disease is not clear.

A study published in August this year (2007) in JAMA magazine, analyzes the food patterns in patients with a diagnosis of colon cancer. there were evaluated in 1009 patients two patterns of food: the «judicious» that includes intake of fruits, vegetables, fish and poultry, and the «Western»: meats, saturated fats, sweets and refined sugars in large quantities. Was observed that patients with high intake of Western diet had an increased risk of recurrence of the disease than patients with food pattern «judicious».
In fact, these data serve to pose a hypothesis and not firm conclusions, because this analysis is retrospective (back in time) in a study designed to assess another aspect and does not allow analyze data that might obscure the results as patterns of behavior associated with each behavioral health food (greater concurrency controls, compliance with treatment). Another paper published in the same magazine in July this year, evaluates the same endpoint in women who had suffered breast cancer and not find any association between diet and the risk of recurrence of the disease. Therefore still missing prospective data to support or not this hypothesis.
As for physical activity there are several studies that show the benefit for the decrease in the appearance of new tumors of the breast and colon also well as in patients with previous diagnosis of breast cancer or colon in reducing relapses of the disease.

Last year we published a study that evaluated the role of physical activity in more than 800 patients operated by colon cancer with lymph committed that made preventive chemotherapy treatment. This study demonstrates that the realization of intense aerobic exercise 4 hours / week or the equivalent of 6 hours / week of moderate hike decreased tumor recurrence as well as prolonged survival. With regard to breast cancer in last year American Society Congress of Oncology (ASCO) were disclosed important information about obesity, exercise and breast cancer. Several studies have shown that obese women with breast cancer have worse prognosis tumors and increased risk of tumor recurrence that women who maintain a normal weight for their age and height. This is probably due to hyperinsulinemia (excess circulating Insulin) it would boost the mitotic activity of tumor cells (growth) and other factors such as the increased amount of estrogen circulating and the production of mitogenic factors (cell growth stimulants) in adipose tissue (leptin). The exercise to control weight is a beneficial factor for women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Based on this practice recommendation for women with breast cancer would prevent weight gain during and after treatment thus it is advisable to combine diet (intake of no more than 20% of calories associated with fat) and exercise of moderate intensity (3 to 5 hours of walking to moderate pace per week).

Alexander Fleming Institute