Raising Quality of Life, Post-Cancer

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As medicine modernizes with each passing day, people who get cancer have more hope than ever for survival. Or, at least, for living much longer than they would have 20 years ago. A new study addressed whether cancer survivors are doing what they can to improve quality of life.

There would be several things for such improvement. Eating nutritiously is one. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is directly tied to quality of life. Second is vzexercising on a regular basis. And third is avoiding cigarettes — which, for many, may have caused the tumor in the first place.

Researchers found that these three factors could lower one’s risk of physical problems, improve overall health, reduce the burden of disease and help emotional health as well. They also found that the more one leads a healthy life, the greater the quality of life. So all that business about eating well and exercise is not a bunch of hot air for people who have already suffered through a major disease.

Over 10 million U.S. adults are cancer survivors. Their state puts them at increased risk for various conditions that include type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and heart problems. They are also more likely to have a poorer quality of life. The study found that cancer survivors are not, overall, doing what they can to help themselves. About three-quarters of smokers who survive cancer don’t stop smoking following treatment. And many others aren’t following nutrition guidelines and are ignoring exercise routines.

Experts say that cancer survivors should exercise 30 minutes a day at least five days a week — and eat at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Both are not excessively difficult targets. A nice long walk achieves the first. One large salad could achieve up to half of the second. Other studies have shown that this behavior could help prevent cancer from coming back and prolong how long patients will live.

In the study, of more than 9,000 cancer survivors, only five percent were meeting all three recommendations. Less than 20% were getting five fruits and vegetables servings a day. Far fewer than half were meeting the physical activity goals. In the whole scheme of things, these are simple matters that go a long way. When cancer is all but defeated, don’t leave the door open even a crack for it to try and return.