"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”
A study of health and lifestyle in people who have had bowel cancer
This study looked at whether certain lifestyle choices such as not smoking and being active were associated with people’s quality of life.
More about this trial
We know from research there is a link between lifestyle choices, quality of life and the risk of cancer coming back. These choices include
- not smoking
- having an active lifestyle
- a healthy diet
- only drinking alcohol in moderation
- keeping to a healthy body weight
Other studies have also found that healthy lifestyles could improve peoples’ quality of life after bowel cancer treatment.
In this study, the researchers wanted to learn more about the lifestyle choices and quality of life in people who had treatment for bowel cancer.
Summary of results
The study team found the lifestyle choices of many bowel cancer survivors weren’t the best they could choose. These choices had an impact on their
The study team sent out questionnaires to people who were treated for bowel (colorectal) cancer in the past 6 months to 5 years. The questionnaires included questions on
- exercise and physical activity
- how much fruit and vegetables were eaten
- if they smoked or used to smoke
- their drinking habits
- weight and height
- quality of life
The researchers looked at 479 questionnaires. They found that the majority of people
- were overweight or obese
- ate fewer than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day
- weren’t physically active
Only a few were smokers or heavy drinkers.
People who were physically active and ate 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetable had a higher quality of life than those who didn’t.
The team particularly looked at what people thought were the barriers and benefits of physical exercise after treatment for bowel cancer.
The most common barrier reported was tiredness caused by their cancer or its treatment. Other barriers were due to age such as general aches and pains and not been able to get about as much as they used to.
The most common benefit reported was improved health and wellbeing. This included
- feeling less tired
- having less pain
- sleeping better
People rarely reported benefits related to their cancer such as preventing it coming back.
The study team concluded that poor lifestyle behaviours were associated with a poorer quality of life. By showing that people who eat a healthy diet and are more physically active feel better and identifying barriers to these, doctors and nurses can help people overcome them after treatment. And reinforce the benefits they may gain from this.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Chloe Grimmett
Cancer Research UK
Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust