Tuesday, July 11, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0231 - Walking for Survival

Today I came across articles in the Journal of Clinical Oncology about post-diagnosis activity and the prevention of recurrence of colorectal cancer. It appears that increased activity levels - say, walking a mile six times a week- result in a very substantial increase in the prevention of colorectal cancer recurrence.

One of the key concepts in the articles was the metabolic equivalent task (MET). Using that standard for measurement, the studies indicate that protective effects occur with as little as 9+ MET-hours per week, with increasing protective effect up to 27+ MET-hours per week, after which protective effect plateaus with physical activity. 9+ MET-hours is the equivalent of 4 or 5 weekly 30-minute sessions of brisk walking.

The good news for cancer patients is that the exercise regimen is all post-diagnosis and post-treatment and is independent of physical activity levels and fitness levels prior to or during treatment. Overall reduction in risk for recurrence was approximately 50% to 60%.

The data is still observational in nature and many questions remain. Still, the correlations are significant and support the intuitive belief that reasonable exercise levels could prevent progression or recurrence of cancer.
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