How to survive cancer? Scientists have named 5 factors

Виктор Литвиненко

How to survive cancer? Scientists have named 5 factors
Healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of dying from cancer. Source: https://ru.freepik.com/author/user12952888

Cancer survivors often face lingering health problems and a reduced quality of life, which can increase the risk of early death from cancer. However, lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, physical activity, and quitting cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, can make a difference.

Researchers from China, Sweden, and the UK analyzed the 5 most important lifestyle factors that affect the quality and length of life of cancer survivors. Scientists told which factor is most important for survival after cancer.

Lifestyle and survival: lifestyle determines

Cancer poses a significant threat to public health, and its global burden will increase for at least another 20 years, the authors of a new study write. The development of the latest technologies for early diagnosis, treatment and supportive care has significantly reduced the risk of death from cancer, but cancer survivors continue to suffer from the consequences of the disease.

According to a new international study by Chinese, British, and Swedish scientists, lifestyle has a direct impact on the subsequent health and life expectancy of cancer survivors.

The researchers studied 5 key lifestyle factors related to health and the risk of dying from cancer:

  • body mass index (BMI);
  • cigarette smoking;
  • alcohol consumption;
  • nutrition;
  • physical activity.

For the analysis, experts used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the National Health Interview Survey in the United States, the British Biobank, and the Kailuan Study in China. The study analyzed the data of about 37 thousand cancer survivors from the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.

Assessment of a healthy lifestyle

"In our analysis, we included five lifestyle factors, including BMI, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and physical activity, which are associated with cancer survival. These factors were identified by previous studies," the authors note.

After analyzing the lifestyle of all study participants, the experts found the following:

  • about 19 thousand patients have never smoked;
  • 14.7 thousand participants consumed a small amount of alcohol;
  • 17 thousand patients followed a healthy diet;
  • 18 thousand participants reported sufficient physical activity;
  • 14.7 thousand had an optimal BMI.

To determine the healthy lifestyle score, the researchers summed these factors in the range from 0 to 5, with high scores indicating a healthier lifestyle. Experts also noted that during the study period, more than 4 thousand participants died of cancer, and about 9 thousand died of other causes.

A healthy diet is the most important factor

After analyzing the data of the study participants, the researchers came to the following conclusions. Adherence to a healthy lifestyle, which includes 4-5 factors compared to an unfavorable lifestyle (healthy lifestyle factor 0-1), led to a 43% reduction in the risk of cancer mortality. At the same time, the risk of mortality from other causes was reduced by 48%.

Each point obtained on the healthy lifestyle scale contributed to an 18% reduction in the risk of cancer mortality. According to the study, nutrition plays the most important role in the survival of patients after cancer.

A healthy diet contributed the most to reducing the risk of mortality by 31%, followed by smoking cessation by 23%, moderate alcohol consumption by 14%, optimal BMI by 11%, and adequate physical activity by 1%.

"Our study consistently showed that the risk of premature death was about 50% lower in those who led a healthy lifestyle compared to those who did not. This once again demonstrated that lifestyle changes play an important role in improving the prognosis for cancer survivors," the study authors said.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can halve the risk of cancer mortality. In particular, quitting cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, healthy eating, physical activity, and maintaining a normal body mass index were associated with improved prognosis. At the same time, according to experts, healthy eating is the leading factor among the 5 factors that reduce the risk of premature death related to cancer.