Does Exercise Help Cancer Patients and Survivors?

There’s consistent and solid evidence that physical activity reduces risk of several cancers — such as colorectal and postmenopausal breast. Data is not as strong when it comes to survival but it’s growing, especially for breast and colorectal survivors.Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 12.23.16pm

That’s the latest from expert Christine Friedenreich, who led off the presentations about physical activity’s effect on survivorship at our research conference today.

Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are considered the gold standard of studies, which would compare a random group of survivors who follow an exercise intervention to those not doing it. Currently, we don’t have RCTs but there is observational evidence showing benefits, said Friedenreich.

Exercise may supply its benefits in a number of ways: It may help patients complete their treatment or it could help control harms of the therapy. Animal studies suggest exercise may also help the therapy get to the tumor by improving blood flow.

But can the course of exercise alter the course of the disease? Two major studies highlighted will hopefully provide some answers. One is ALBERTA a major observational study focusing on exercise and breast cancer survivors. Then CHALLENGE is a randomized control trial investigating exercise among colon cancer survivors.

Here’s the guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine on exercise for survivors.

And here’s the latest on our CUP report that came out this month on survival and breast cancer.


What Foods have Folate? Which have Selenium?

The hot topic that kicked off our research conference today was about how some selenium, folic acid and other micronutrients decrease cancer risk, but too much may actually increase risk. It’s delightfully termed the “Goldilocks Effect” and Glen wrote about it earlier.

All the scientists stressed that certain amounts of micronutrients show cancer protection. Supplements can give you too much. But a healthy amount of foods cannot give you the high amounts under study for harm. And these foods are loaded with plenty of other nutrients and phytochemicals linked with cancer protection and good health.

So what foods can give you selenium and folate? Here’s a few:

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Getting the Diet “Just Right” – Vitamins, Minerals and the Goldilocks Effect

Joel Mason, MD of Tufts University Medical Center kicked off the opening plenary session of the 2014 AICR Research Conference with a deep dive into one of the most intriguing and – to the public, at least – confusing and even frustrating areas of cancer prevention research.canstockphoto3912708

As scientists learn more about the interplay between diet and cancer risk, it’s clearer than ever that the role of many dietary factors in several cancers is more complex than was once thought.

The entire plenary session of our research conference is focusing on the notion of the “Goldilocks Effect”– the idea that, for several dietary factors, the old idea of “more is better” is flatly wrong. (In scientific circles, this phenomenon is known as the “U-shaped curve,” which describes the graph of dose-response observed as consumption of a given dietary factor increases – from high risk (low consumption) to lower risk (adequate consumption) and back to high risk (high consumption).

Mason spoke on folate as a case in point: Habitually low consumption of folate is associated with higher risk for colorectal and other cancers, as low folate levels increase genomic instability in cells. But in some cases, getting too much folate in the diet has also been linked, in animal models and in some human studies, to increased risk. He stressed, however, that this finding remains controversial, as the evidence for a risk-increasing effect for folate is by no means as consistent as the evidence for its protective role. But until we learn more, he advised that the general population stick to the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation to limit folic acid intake to less than 1000 mcgs/day. Continue reading