Vigorous exercise reduces the risk for death in adult survivors of childhood cancer
medwireNews: Vigorous exercise in early adulthood is associated with a decreased risk for death among adult survivors of childhood cancer, according to findings presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting 2018 in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Among 15,450 survivors of childhood cancer, the cumulative incidence of all-cause mortality at 15 years was 11.7% among those with the lowest levels of activity (0 MET-hours/week), which was significantly higher than the 8.0% incidence for those who exercised the most (15–21 MET-hours/week).
The researchers note in JAMA Oncology, in which the study is simultaneously published, that, unlike in some earlier studies, the association between exercise and mortality was not dose-dependent, with a cumulative incidence of all-cause mortality of 8.6% and 7.4% for those exercising for 3–6 and 9–12 MET-hours/week, respectively.
The optimal level of exercise was calculated to be 15–18 MET-hours/week, which researcher Lee Jones (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA) and colleagues describe as “brisk walking approximately 60 minutes/d, 5 d/wk,” for example.
In a subset analysis of 5689 of the survivors, the 1174 (20%) individuals who increased their exercise levels over an 8-year period (to a mean of 7.9 MET-hours/week) had a 40% reduction in the rate of all-cause mortality compared with the 1677 (29%) individuals who maintained low levels of exercise (0–6 MET-hours/week).
The study participants were diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21 years and had a median age at baseline interview of 25.9 years. Over a median follow-up of 9.6 years, there were 1063 deaths in total.
The researchers say that when viewed together with previous research, their findings “support the general conclusion that exercise confers significant health benefit for cancer survivors.”
They add that strategies such as this, which complement conventional cancer therapies and offset treatment-related effects, are of “major clinical importance” in this population.
Although the current results may have been influenced by confounding, the researchers comment: “Collectively, these data support counseling all survivors, whenever appropriate, to increase participation in vigorous exercise at least once a week for 40 minutes. Such increases may be realistic and achievable for a significant proportion of patients.”
By Catherine Booth
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