Could weight loss and exercise improve cancer survival chances?

07 June 2016 | News, Healthy living

’Losing weight is best way to fight cancer’ was the message on the front of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph.

The Daily Mirror went with ‘Walk 25 minutes a day to beat cancer’.

These startling claims came from Yale Cancer Center in the USA, where new research has concluded that the best way for overweight people to fight the disease is to lose weight.

Exercise and cancer

Breast cancer patients who had just three hours’ brisk exercise a week had mortality rates 46 per cent lower than those living sedentary lifestyles, the study found.

And an intensive workout apparently has a direct effect on prostate cancer even at an advanced stage.

Consultant professor Fred Saad of Montreal University, Canada told the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology that cancer patients should even be given a personal trainer on the NHS alongside their medication.

Our cancer prevention recommendations

For cancer prevention, World Cancer Research Fund recommends that you should keep your weight as low as you can within the healthy range – there is strong evidence that being overweight increases the risk of 11 cancers, and researchers also believe that being overweight can affect a person’s response to treatment.

After cancer treatment, survivors should continue to follow this recommendation where possible to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Healthy lifestyle

I caught up with our Head of Research Interpretation Dr Rachel Thompson to get her reaction to the new study.

“It’s really interesting,” she said, “and further emphasises the importance of having a healthy diet and being physically active when tackling cancer.

"We already have extensive research which shows that eating a healthy diet, being a healthy weight and being physically active can help prevent up to a third of the most common cancers. 

"This latest research is an indication that a healthy lifestyle could be just as important for those living with and beyond cancer. More research is needed to further understand these findings."

Will Finch | 07 June 2016

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