Exercising reduces the risk of dying from lymphoma, a Mayo Clinic study reports.
Dr. Priyanka Pophali, a blood disease specialist at the Rochester, Minnesota-based healthcare organization, presented the findings at the 59th American Society of Hematology annual meeting, in Atlanta, Dec. 9-12. The title of the presentation was “The Level of Physical Activity before and after Lymphoma Diagnosis Impacts Overall and Lymphoma-Specific Survival.”
Scientists agree that exercise can prolong people’s lives.
Pophali and her colleagues wondered how it would affect lymphoma patients’ lifespan. In particular, they wanted to know if a person would live longer by exercising more after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
“As physicians, we recommend physical activity for all cancer survivors to improve overall quality of life,” Pophali said in a press release. “But we did not know if physical activity would have an impact on survival in lymphoma patients.”
The study covered 4,087 lymphoma patients treated at the Mayo Clinic between 2002 and 2012. All began their treatment within nine months of being diagnosed.
Researchers first asked patients to fill out a questionnaire on how much they were exercising before their diagnosis. The team then followed up at regular intervals with questionnaires on whether patients were excercising more, less or the same. They followed each patient for three years.
The team discovered that patients who exercised more before a diagnosis survived longer when they developed lymphoma than those less active to begin with. They also found that those who stepped up their exercise after a lymphoma diagnosis had better survival rates than those who remained less active.
Because the research was based on patient reports, the results reflected patients’ perception of their physical activity.
But the findings were consistent throughout the study. Patients who perceived that they were exercising less three years after their diagnosis had shorter survival times than those who reported no change.
“Our findings show that physical activity can have a positive impact on survival in lymphoma patients,” Pophali said. “Importantly, our study shows a survival benefit in patients who increase their level of physical activity.” Because “physical activity behaviors can be modified, physicians should counsel patients and survivors on the importance of physical activity and encourage them to maintain and, if possible, increase their level of physical activity,” he said.
Another recent exercise-and-cancer study showed that working out lowers the risk of a person developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The team asked 820 non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients who were listed in the B.C. Cancer Registry to estimate the amount and intensity of exercise they did in each decade of their life. The amount category included hours per day and days per week. The three levels in the intensity category were mild, moderate and strenuous.
Those who had engaged in intense physical activity during their life were at 25 to 30 percent lower risk of developing non-Hodgins lymphoma, researchers said.
Age wasn’t a factor in the results, the team discovered. They concluded that exercising was beneficial regardless of age.