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21-10-2012 | General practice | Article

Elderly female cancer survivors reap benefits of following prevention advice


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medwireNews: Elderly female cancer survivors who adhere stringently to national and international recommendations for cancer prevention have a reduced risk for all-cause mortality compared with their peers who are less adherent, show US study results.

Similarly, cancer-specific mortality was lowest among women with the highest versus the lowest adherence scores, but only for those who had survived cancers other than breast, colorectal, and endometrial, report the researchers.

Physical activity in particular was found to have a strong independent association with lower mortality in this group of women, adds the team, which presented the findings at the 11th Annual American Association of Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in Anaheim, California, USA.

"Elderly female cancer survivors who achieve and maintain an ideal body weight, stay physically active and eat a healthy diet have an almost 40% lower risk for death compared with women who do not follow these recommendations," said co-author Maki Inoue-Choi (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA) in a statement to the media.

The study cohort included 2080 participants of the Iowa Women's Health Study who had a confirmed cancer diagnosis between 1986 and 2002, and who completed a follow-up questionnaire in 2004.

Participants were assigned an adherence score according to 2007 World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research recommendations for cancer prevention, out of a possible total score of eight.

Between 2004 and 2009, there were 495 deaths among the women, of which 197 were from cancer, report Inoue-Choi et al. The risk for death from any cause was 37% less among women in the highest adherence score group (6-8 points) compared with those in the lowest (0-4 points), after taking into account factors including age, number of comorbid conditions, perceived general health, current smoking, and type, stage, and treatment of cancer.

When the researchers stratified results by time since cancer diagnosis and cancer type, they found the association only held true for women who had survived for between 5 and 10 years, and who had cancers other than breast, colorectal, or endometrial.

Similarly, cancer mortality was 45% lower among women with the highest compared with the lowest adherence scores, but only in those who had had "other cancers," notes the team.

Adhering to the physical activity recommendation in particular gave women a significantly lower risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular-, and cancer-specific death after adjusting data for dietary and body weight recommendations.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

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