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Eating fish and exercising are linked to a lower risk of cancer reoccurrence in colon cancer patients, a new study suggests.
Exercising and dietary factors, such as eating less red meat and more vegetables and fish, have been linked to a lower risk of developing colon cancer. However, it's less clear whether such factors also play a role in preventing cancer reoccurrence.
In the new study, the researchers surveyed 1,515 colon cancer patients in Poland, Vietnam, Western Europe and the United States. Among these patients, 188 had recurrent colon cancer, meaning that their cancer had returned after treatment.
The study participants provided information about their diet, physical-activity patterns, smoking habits and alcohol consumption.
The results showed that patients who ate less than two servings of fish weekly were more than twice as likely to have recurrent colon cancer, compared with patients who included more than two servings of fish in their weekly diet.
The results held when the researchers controlled for other factors that could affect people's risk of cancer — for example, their weight and their use of nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, which may lower the risk of this cancer.
In a similar manner, the researchers also found that patients who exercised for less than 60 minutes weekly were more than twice as likely to have their cancer reoccur, compared with patients who exercised more, according to the study, presented Monday (June 1) in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. [7 Cancers You Can Ward Off with Exercise]
Colon cancer is among the most common cancers in the United States. This year in the United States, more than 136,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer, and 50,000 will die of this cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Smoking is another risk factor for colon cancer, but the researchers didn't find a relationship between smoking habits and the risk of recurrent colon cancer in their study. About 12 percent of people who had recurrent cancer smoked, similar to the percentage of smokers among patients who didn't have recurrent cancer.
However, it is possible that more patients with recurrent colon cancer used to smoke but quit when their disease returned, said study researcher Dr. Mohammed Shaik, of Michigan State University.
Similarly, the researchers didn't find a link between alcohol consumption and the risk of recurrent colon cancer.