Healthy habits linked to higher quality of life among cancer survivors

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer survivors who lead a healthy lifestyle are more likely to enjoy a high quality of life, US scientists have found.

A study from the American Cancer Society studied more than 9,000 cancer survivors to see whether they ate five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, did the recommended amount of exercise, and were non-smokers.

They found that, although smoking rates were low, four fifths of survivors were not eating the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, and seven tenths were not doing regular exercise.

Only around one in 20 survivors were managing to meet all three of the lifestyle recommendations.

However, the researchers noted that patients who did meet the recommendations tended to enjoy a higher quality of life than those who did not, and that quality of life increased in line with the number of recommendations that an individual met.

Lead researcher Dr Kevin Stein said that the number of cancer survivors who failed to meet the lifestyle recommendations was "concerning".

"What is particularly noteworthy is that following lifestyle behaviour recommendations not only can have a positive impact on physical health outcomes, but also have the added benefit of having a positive impact on quality of life," he said.

"We also found that the relationship between compliance with recommendations and quality of life is cumulative. That is, that the more recommended health behaviours survivors engage in (e.g. eating better, being active, not smoking), the more powerful the impact on their quality of life."

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.