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Colon Cancer and Exercise

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I've read and heard about how being active is supposed to help with recovery from cancer many times. And certainly it's better to be active than not. But at the same time when I was first diagnosed I was told that colon cancer is the most common cancer for people who are very active and take care of their bodies. 

This morning I read about a local guy who has been a long distance bicycle rider for years. He'd actually ride across Canada and has done so more than once. He was involved in many healthy pursuits. He was diagnosed with colon cancer nine months ago and just passed away. He was 35 years old. This isn't the first time I've heard a story like that. So what the heck?

Jan

abita's picture
abita
Posts: 1074
Joined: Dec 2017

Well, I have been vegetarian since 87, vegan for 6 years, so it never occurred to me that I would ever get colon cancer. I have always gotten all my gyno tests and eat for my heart health. So, I am with you in the what the heck. 

OzarkGal's picture
OzarkGal
Posts: 41
Joined: Oct 2017

Me too...what the heck?  I don't understand this.

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

Abita, I have a friend who is like you. She's always been a vegetarian and tries to also be vegan. She was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago and is very angry about it. Luckily she's doing very well and hasn't had it spread or had a relapse.

OzarkGal, I guess it's like anything else in the cancer world. There are no specifics and no firm answers. No two plus two makes four. Stupid cancer...

Jan

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 1200
Joined: Apr 2017

I know it is sometimes a relief to point to exceptions to the rule. . . and there are many exceptions.  However, from my perspective, science looks at larger numbers and larger trends.  How we each live our lives is a very personal decision.  Some of use decide to live as intensly as we can.  Others choose to go on doing what they had been doing before their diagnosis.  Others choose to search for strategies to optimize their odds for survival.  No one way is right or wrong, it is merely a personal choice.  Once again, "for what it's worth."

BRHMichigan's picture
BRHMichigan
Posts: 368
Joined: Jul 2017

It's all so frustrating. I know my life was way too sedentary quite a few years prior to my diagnosis. But researching and really digging into my life, I am convinced anger, bitterness, and uncontrolled diabetes may have contributed to my cancer. I just can't believe it's a random cancer. Children don't get this, but it's hitting younger people now. For me, I'm just doing my best to figure it all out. Toughest thing for me is altering my diet. Wish it was easier. Wish wechad more answers too. 

beaumontdave's picture
beaumontdave
Posts: 1178
Joined: Aug 2013

I think folks just need to latch on to things as a way to feel "in control", in a world that often presents with many random twists and turns. We want to believe that if we do all the "right" things, we won't be hit with the terrible things that befall others who aren't as careful or controlled. Sh*t does happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Dave

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

So very true Dave. One of the things so frustrating with cancer is how little control or definites there are about it.

Jan

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6733
Joined: Feb 2009

It's often hard to hear of someone that has done "all the right things" and still got cancer.  But remember there are a lot of people that eat terrible everyday, burn the candle at both ends, cook with lard, drink and smoke all day long, couch potatoes, fried food is their best friend and guess what - they don't get cancer.  It's a matter of a lot of things when you do get it.  I'm thinking a lot of genetics, and just plain bad luck.  My doctor told me it was nothing, I'd eaten, drank or environment.  Come to find out my aunt got colon cancer at 74 and my age was 50.  We are the only two people out of 45 in our family that had colon/rectal cancer.  Very unlucky for me as I've always eaten healthy and always exercised daily and guess me out of 45 was just my luck.  It's just a matter of chance.  I'm sorry, it does just stink that's for sure.

Kim

airborne72's picture
airborne72
Posts: 282
Joined: Sep 2012

There is only one item on all the lists of "probable" contributing factors for CRC that applies to me and that was drinking beer.  I spent decades physically active.  Observed a very regimented sleep cycle with typically 7 hours of sleep nightly.  Rarely ate red meat, or any meat.  Ate more vegetables than the entire rabbit population in Tennessee.  Never smoked.  Did not have any environmental exposures occupationally or otherwise.  But genetically for my family tree, I was the "alpha" case.  The first and to date the only relative to develop CRC.

So in my case it was either karma for something I did in my younger days or drinking beer.  Who knows?

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6733
Joined: Feb 2009

My doctor told me that it was nothing that I've consumed or environment that caused mine and I've had beer before and after but I've got an aunt that had it so it is in the genes.  I've not had a polyp in 9 years since so I'm no sure why that one turned out bad - genetics they suspect.  I've always been a healthy eater and exercise regularly so it's just hard to tell.  I'm not giving up life trying to figure it out.

Kim

LIEBERT
Posts: 6
Joined: Oct 2017

So, I had the ostomey surgery March, 2017, just had the reverse April, 2018, chemo last year 12 treatments, radiation 28 shots, still a bit sore after the April reverse, but plumbing is all working. I'm looking forward to more walking, golf, etc. this summer....and swimming now that the bag is gone. CT scan in a month, another scope in 4 months.

 

 

darcher's picture
darcher
Posts: 305
Joined: Jun 2017

  In my case it was from swimming in a polluted river as a child. I had my genetics checked and it came back clean as a whistle. I've got no predispositions to cancer or any of the diseases my parents had. It could be that I caught the recessive genes but I'm more inclined to think it was chromium 6 in the river and air.  Both my parents got cancer and so did my older brother along with his wife and their child.  All of us lived in that area which became an EPA superfund site about 20 years ago.  However, it took the better part of 40 years to show up in me, my parents,  and my older brother.  So, environment plays a big role and each of us may have to dig way back looking for what ever it was that may have caused it. 

  The worst part is we may not even know what the villian is because it's so well hidden.  Someone who likes to run on a track may get it from the stuff they made the track from.  Swimming may cause it depending on what's in the water.  Playing golf, you're exposed to what they spray on the grass. There are so many artifical things we come in contact with and most of them have not been tested to the extent they should be to say they don't cause cancer 20+ years later.    

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6733
Joined: Feb 2009

That is terrible.  It reminds of that movie Erin Brockovich.  Wish that you could have found out the reason that the river was contaminated.  We had a playground that was closed several years ago near us that was unsafe for play because of toxic waste they found in the soil but it was not related to my illness.  It was closed for several years.  We just have to keep living and not be afraid of everything.  Wishing you the best.

Kim

Mikenh's picture
Mikenh
Posts: 779
Joined: Oct 2017

"I was told that colon cancer is the most common cancer for people who are very active and take care of their bodies."

The problem lies in the statistic used here. It doesn't really tell you whether or not being active and taking care of your bodies increases or decreases your odds of getting cancer of any kind.

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, included adults ages 18 to 98, with the average age at 59. In 1987, participants had reported their activity habits, along with their weight, height and and other relevant information. After an average of 11 years, 186, 932 people had been diagnosed with cancer.

When comparing the most to the least active, lower risk was seen for colon, breast, and endometrial cancers along with esophageal, liver, stomach and kidney cancers. Myeloma and cancers of the head and neck, rectum, and bladder also showed reduced risks that were significant. Risk was reduced for lung cancer, but only for current and former smokers.

The risk of developing seven cancer types was 20 percent (or more) lower among the most active participants as compared with the least active. The most active, those in the 90th percentile, corresponds to approximately 22.5 MET-hours/week, says lead author Steven Moore, PhD, at the National Cancer Institute. “This is comparable to 7 hours a week of brisk walking or 2.5 hours a week of jogging. These are active people, but not super-athletes.”

http://www.aicr.org/cancer-research-update/2016/05_18/cru-More-Evidence-of-Exercise-for-Cancer-Prevention.html

steveja
Posts: 41
Joined: Apr 2017

Hey JanJan63 - always like your posts.   There is a load of factors *associated* with lower occurrence and recurrence of CRC, but the evidence for a *causal* relationship is weak, and the extent the factor impacts risk (hazard ratio) is rarely examined in detail, and even more rarely convincing statistically.   Of course genetics cross any external factors, but physical activity, less red meat, less alcohol, more fiber, aspirin, calcium, vitamin D, polyphenols are all supposed factors, BUT a fat couch-potato meat-eater w/ 4 drinks a day, and a recent colonoscopy is still probably at lower risk than a vegan marathon runner who fails to get a colonoscopy.

You can find studies for most of these factors that range from 'no effect' to 'dramatic effect' and the latter always make the news.    For some time the press was anxious to blame red meat and processed foods.  Some articles suggested w/o evidence that the iron-carrying 'heme' in red meat was the problem, therefore chicken dark meat was considered 'red meat'!  Other sources claim it's the higher levels of saturated fats in meat.   Some more recent studies suggest that meat-eaters merely eat fewer veggies (polyphenols & fiber) and that's the cause.     IOW most of these factors are just slightly this side of voodoo. 

As you might expect there is a political agenda behind parts of this.  Vegans tout their lower incidence rate of CRC without any evidence of the cause (maybe eating tofu once a week is sufficient, who knows).   The press was on a tear to demonize red meat for a while.  The latest meme is to demonize all alcohol as causal of cancer.    There is *something* to all of these factors, but there is no specific causal path.  For all we know the charred oak barrels used for some wines and whiskey are the issue, it may be the secondary fermentation by-products in wine & beer - we just don't know.  Maybe we never will know since it's really hard to create the sort of large study and control conditions like the diet for years or decades.

FWIW I adhere to the voodoo of more exercise, lower BMI, less alcohol,  aspirin, calcium, vitD, more fiber & polyphenols, in part b/c I hate doing nothing, and in part b/c some of these have other benefits and little downside.  OTOH I don't expect these measures are more than slightly effective at preventing polyps or recurrence.

Mikenh's picture
Mikenh
Posts: 779
Joined: Oct 2017

How about tree nuts?

steveja
Posts: 41
Joined: Apr 2017

A general, but competent article on the issue.

https://www.asco.org/about-asco/press-center/news-releases/chance-colon-cancer-recurrence-nearly-cut-half-people-who-eat

The Journal article

http://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JCO.2017.75.5413

StageIII patients receiving adjuvant therapy have higher disease-free-survival when the eat two servings of nuts per week, BUT their recurrence-free-survival improvement isn't statistically very significant (P value 0.08, or 0.15).

This suggests that nuts are good for your health, but *may* have little or no impact on cancer recurrence.   That's not surprising.

--

It's important to understand that disease-free & recurrence-free survival are quite different things.  CRC patients disproportionately die from noncancer-related causes.  That's hardly surprising since high BMI, low activity, high-alcohol consumption and a host of other 'unhealthy' choices are associated with CRC occurrence.  

So, for example, a stage I CRC patient has a ~92% relative 5yr survival (compared to the reference population w/o CRC) but only has a ~4% chance of recurrence.  The extra ~4-5% dead are due to other factors than cancer per se.  Nut consumption impacts total deaths, but it's dubious that it has any impact on cancer.

 

FWIW you'd probably get a more dramatic result if you put all CRC pts on a diet, exercise regime.   

--

Yes, tree nuts twice a week are a healthy choice generally (note the high calories),  but thinking it prevents recurrence is plausible but mostly wishful thinking.

Mikenh's picture
Mikenh
Posts: 779
Joined: Oct 2017

I got in 102 miles last week so I'm probably doing ok in the exercise department.

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