A recent article published in PLOS ONE looked at whether long-term prostate cancer survivors use diet and exercise to help with their cancer and what factors influenced their choice.
For many, cancer is a wake-up call for lifestyle changes. After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer for men worldwide and according to the Canadian Cancer Society the most common cancer for men in Canada. With so many men affected in Canada and worldwide, there is growing interest in lifestyle changes that might help manage prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society Prostate Cancer Survivorship Care Guidelines (ACSSCG) recommend that prostate cancer survivors eat a healthy diet that focuses on vegetables and fruit, low amounts of saturated fats, and adequate amounts of calcium. They also recommend 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Although recommendations are in place, how many prostate cancer survivors actually follow them and what factors affect their decisions?
The New South Wales Prostate Cancer Care and Outcomes Study (PCOS) devised a 10-year follow-up questionnaire
PCOS analyzed 1634 prostate cancer survivors from New South Wales Australia, under the age of 70 at diagnosis, and who answered a 10-year follow-up questionnaire describing their use of diet and exercise. Survivors were asked if they had “ever” made a change to their diet and if they were currently eating and/or exercising to help with their prostate cancer. Selected socio-demographic, clinical, health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL), and psychological factors were assessed that may have affected survivor decision to use diet and exercise to help with their prostate cancer.
Few prostate cancer survivors used diet and exercise to manage their cancer
From the questionnaire, it was determined that only 11.8 % of the prostate cancer survivors were currently using diet and only 7.8 % were currently using exercise to help with their prostate cancer. Younger, more educated men, those who participate in support groups, or who had more aggressive cancer at time of diagnosis were found to be more likely to use diet or exercise. Not surprisingly, survivors who feared cancer recurrence were more likely to use diet and survivors who were less satisfied of their medical treatments were more likely to use exercise to manage their cancer. It is interesting to note that one in four of the men using exercise for their prostate cancer indicated that information about exercise came from their doctor.
However, 39% of surviving PCOS participants did not respond to the 10-year questionnaire. Furthermore, the selected socio-demographic, clinical, health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL), and psychological factors assessed did not cause diet and exercise use but may have influenced lifestyle decisions. Also, recall errors may have occurred in the self-report of having ever made changes to diet and exercise over the 10-year period.
More education is needed
In this cohort, only one in six long-term prostate cancer survivors were currently using diet, exercise, or both to help with their prostate cancer. Studies from the U.S. and U.K found similar results, suggesting that more education on the scientific evidence of a healthy diet and regular exercise may benefit prostate cancer patients.
Written by Maria-Elena Bernal B.Sc. (Hons)
- Hughes S, Egger S, Carle C, Smith DP, Chambers S, Kahn C, et al. (2019) Factors associated with the use of diet and the use of exercise for prostate cancer by long-term survivors. PLoSONE 14(10):e0223407. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0223407
- Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Siegel RL, Torre LA, Jemal A. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2018 Nov; 68(6):394-424.
- “What Is Prostate Cancer? – Canadian Cancer Society”. 2019. Cancer.Ca. https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/prostate/prostate-cancer/?region=on.
Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay