Lifestyle interventions with colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is on the rise in the western world, with severe short and long-term complications due to treatment, with patients facing options of chemotherapy, radiation and resection and stomas. The authors of this article conducted a meta-analysis to determine if diet and exercise modifications could improve quality of life throughout treatment.
While it is widely understood that lifestyle modifications are important in the prevention of cancer, this article looks at benefits that can be noted in quality of life, even during cancer treatments and longer-term following the completion of treatment. The International Agency for Research into Cancer have noted that modifying at-risk lifestyle behaviours (diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake) can impact peri-operative outcomes and improve short-term and longer-term quality of life.
The authors conducted a meta-analysis on paper that included adults over the age of 18 with non-metastatic colorectal cancer. In total, 71 papers were reviewed for impacts on lifestyle changes. Of the 61 papers in total that were reviewed, 10 were noted to be randomly controlled for physical activity and four were randomly controlled for diet and exercise impacts. The physical activity varied across the studies, but included variations of brisk walking, cycling and strength training. With diet and exercise, emphasis was given on a lower fat and higher fibre diet, incorporating more plant-based foods, and some studies used BMI as an indicator of sustained dietary changes.
However, the significance of this article was that it was one of the first papers to date to look at the randomised control trials (RTCs) for colorectal cancer across a couple of lifestyle factors. Of note, no RTCs were noted for alcohol or smoking cessation. The authors noted even though the outcome measurements varied across the studies, the adherence rates noted in the studies with diet and exercise changes indicated improvements in quality of life, throughout and post colorectal cancer treatments.
Specific parameters for exercise or dietary changes were not outlined on this article, however this article did shed light on the benefit of beginning a physical activity programme - no matter the stage of treatment for colorectal cancer. While it has been widely known that diet and exercise are paramount for cancer prevention, this article utilised a small sample of RTCs to note that even short-term gains in quality of life and physical function can be gained by starting lifestyle changes, even during phases of treatment.
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> From: Moug et al., Int J Colorectal Dis 32 (2017) 765-775. All rights reserved to Int J Colorectal Dis. Click here for the online summary.