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Adhering to Lifestyle Guidelines Reduced Mortality in Elderly Female Cancer Survivors

October 17, 2012
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  • Maintaining healthy weight, diet and exercise reduced risk for death.
  • Physical activity had the greatest effect on cancer survival rates.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, staying physically active and maintaining a healthy diet improved survival after cancer diagnosis in an elderly female cancer survivor population, according to data presented at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held here Oct. 16-19, 2012.

Researchers examined cancer survivors’ adherence to the 2007 World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) guidelines for body weight, physical activity and diet.

“Elderly female cancer survivors who achieve and maintain an ideal body weight, stay physically active and eat a healthy diet have an almost 40 percent lower risk for death compared with women who do not follow these recommendations,” said Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., R.D., research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

Study participants included 2,080 women from 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. Women provided information on body weight, physical activity level, dietary intake and other demographic and lifestyle factors.

Through annual linkage with the State of Health Registry of Iowa and the National Death Index, researchers identified 495 deaths from 2004 to 2009, including 197 from cancer and 153 from cardiovascular disease. Researchers adjusted for age, number of comorbid conditions, general health, smoking, type and stage of cancer, current cancer treatment and subsequent cancer diagnosis. They found all-cause mortality was 37 percent lower for women with the highest (6 to 8) versus the lowest (0 to 4) adherence scores.

Reaching the WCRF/AICR physical activity recommendation was also associated with lower risk for death from any cause, from cardiovascular disease or from cancer after the researchers adjusted for dietary and body weight recommendation adherence scores and other covariates.

However, reaching the dietary recommendations was not associated with mortality following adjustment for body weight and physical activity recommendation adherence scores.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

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About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.

For more information about the AACR, visit

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(215) 446-7109
In Anaheim, Oct. 16-19:
(714) 740-4540

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