Oncology Central

Q&A follow up: A closer look at physical activity and cancer prevention

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Oncology Central recently hosted a free online webinar titled: A closer look at: diet and cancer prevention, featuring speakers Susannah Brown (World Cancer Research Fund International, UK), Karan Thomas (Health Development Consultancy, UK) and Kim Buxton (Loughborough University, UK).

After the presentation, our speakers took questions from the audience in a live Q&A. Here, our speakers respond to these questions we didn’t have time for during the live webinar. Do let us know your thoughts on diet and cancer prevention, or any of the questions posed by commenting below this feature!

Did you miss the live webinar event? You can watch it on demand here.

Is lack of information a major issue to why cancer patients  do not exercise?

Karan Thomas: Many thanks for your question and yes I do think you are right.  There is a general lack of good quality patient education materials in the area of physical activity and cancer.

This is why I think it’s so very important that we raise the issue in a sensitive way with patients and help them understand the risks. As we looked at in my short presentation, patients do wish information from us.

The World Cancer Research Fund is doing an excellent job with their publications and also focusing on prevention to try to educate the wider public of the risks and the benefits of changing to a healthier lifestyle.

Webinars like this one are also an extremely good way of reaching health professionals to help them spread the word!

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How can you  increase physical activity or engage the patient in an exercise training program during cancer treatment? Can it interact negatively with treatment (i.e., increase toxicity, attenuate drug effectiveness)? If not, how can you encourage a patient struggling with chronic fatigue to exercise?

WCRF: As  every case is unique, patients should speak to their health professionals about the impact physical activity may have and how to be more active when suffering from fatigue. However this information from Macmillan may be useful for many: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/maintaining-a-healthy-lifestyle/keeping-active

Is there evidence (prospective studies) that adopting government recommendations of physical activity reduces cancer risk/noncommunicable disease (NCD) progression?

Susannah Brown: Twenty-four journal articles that report on the adherence to our Cancer Prevention Recommendations have been published. The outcomes differ – some look at cancer in general, some at specific cancers and some at cancer survivors, but all include a score for physical activity which is equivalent to ≥150 mins physical activity per week. They show that adherence to the recommendations, which include physical activity, is beneficial.

If you had 30 seconds to explain the mechanisms of physical activity and cancer risk to a member of the public, what would you say?

Susannah Brown: I would explain that physical activity is a critical part of staying healthy and preventing cancer, and has both a direct an indirect effect on cancer risk. The indirect effect is via its effect on body fatness; physical activity can reduce body fatness, increased body fatness is associated with increased levels of circulating hormones (estrogen and androgens), excess insulin and glucose in the blood and inflammation in the body, all of which have been associated with increased cancer risk. As a direct effect, physical activity can improve immune function, which is critical for preventing cancer as a strong immune system can detect and destroy potential cancerous cells.

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