Nutrition, Physical Activity Guidelines and Survival After Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Bottom Line: A lifestyle consistent with the American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines to maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular physical activity, and eat a diet rich in nutritious foods was associated with a lower risk of death in patients with colon cancer.

Why The Research Is Interesting: In 2001, the ACS first published guidelines for nutrition during and after cancer treatment; these were last updated in 2012. But whether patients with colon cancer who follow the ACS Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors have improved survival is unknown.

Who and When: 992 patients with stage III (spread to nearby lymph nodes) colon cancer who were part of a chemotherapy randomized trial from 1999 through 2001

What (Study Measures): ACS guideline scores from 0 to 6 (higher score indicates healthier behaviors) for patients based on body mass index, physical activity and intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and red/processed meats, in addition to a score from 0 to 8 that included alcohol intake (exposures); chance of survival comparing patients with higher and lower ACS guideline scores (outcomes)

How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and they cannot control natural differences that could explain study findings.

Authors: Erin L. Van Blarigan, Sc.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and coauthors

Results:  Among patients with colon cancer, a lifestyle in line with the ACS guidelines was associated with a lower risk of death.

Limitations: The authors cannot conclude the associations are independent of a patient’s prediagnosis lifestyle  or that changing behaviors after cancer diagnosis can achieve these results.

Study Conclusions: 






Related Material: The editorial, “Helping Colorectal Cancer Survivors Benefit From Changing Lifestyle Behaviors: Implementation Science and Private Industry Collaboration to the Rescue,” by Michael J. Fisch, M.D., M.P.H., of AIM Specialty Health, Chicago, and coauthors also is available on the For The Media website.


For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.