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New Guidelines from the American Cancer Society Recommend Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Friday, April 27th, 2012

New guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend that people living with cancer maintain a healthy weight, get enough exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that healthy nutrition and physical activity behavior after a diagnosis can lower the chances of the cancer coming back, and can improve the chances of disease-free survival.

Among the recommendations:

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

  • Avoid weight gain during cancer treatment, whether you are at a healthy weight or overweight.
  • Weight loss after recovery from treatment may benefit survivors who are overweight or obese.

Be physically active.

  • Studies show that exercise is safe during cancer treatment, and can improve many aspects of health, including muscle strength, balance, fatigue, and depression.
  • Physical activity after diagnosis is linked to living longer and a reduced risk of the cancer returning among people living with cancer, including breast, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancer.

Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  • The most health benefits are associated with a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, and fish, and low in refined grains, red meat and processed meat (such as hot dogs), desserts, high-fat dairy, and French fries. Most of the studies about cancer and diet have focused on breast cancer.
  • Studies show that taking vitamins, herbs, and other nutritional supplements often does not help cancer patients live longer, and may even shorten life. Before taking any supplement, discuss it with a healthcare provider.
  • The recommendations also include specific guidance for people diagnosed with breast, colon, endometrial, ovarian, lung, prostate, head and neck, and blood cancers. It includes a section with answers to common questions about alcohol, organic foods, sugar, supplements, and several other areas of interest.
  1. Rock CL, Doyle C, Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. 2012. CA Cancer J Clin. April 26, 2012. Abstract available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21142/abstract. Accessed April 27, 2012.

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