Can going for a walk improve cancer survivors’ long-term prognosis? It may, according to new research showing that exercise can lower survivors’ risk of premature death, not only from cancer but from any cause. The findings are likely to resonate widely at a time when about 14 million Americans, and many more worldwide, have survived cancer.
In one report, a major new review published this month in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, scientists at the agency gathered available studies examining exercise and cancer survivorship, dating to 1950. Most had been published in the past five years.
“This is an area of growing scientific interest,” says Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash, the associate director for applied research at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study. “Exercise is an accessible, low-cost intervention. But before we can suggest that cancer survivors become physically active, we need to understand what effects exercise has” on the bodies and life spans of those who’ve been given a cancer diagnosis.