(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Physical activity is associated with a significant reduction in mortality rates among elderly female cancer survivors, according to data from the Iowa Women’s Health Study presented during the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

“Being physically active appears to have a strong and independent association with lower mortality among elderly cancer survivors,” reported lead author Maki Inoue-Choi and coauthors, of the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

The team assessed 2,080 female cancer survivors’ adherence with 2007 WCRF/AICR (World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research) lifestyle recommendations for diet, body weight, and physical activity, tracking cause of death using the State of Health Registry of Iowa and the National Death Index during 2004 to 2009.

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For overall lifestyle-recommendations adherence, all-cause mortality was lower for women with the highest versus the lowest adherence scores (HR, 0.63, 95% CI, 0.47-0.85), after controlling for age, number of comorbidities, smoking status, stage and type of cancer, cancer therapy modalities, and subsequent cancer diagnoses.

But findings were more pronounced for physical activity adherence, the researchers found.

“Meeting the physical activity recommendation was associated with lower risk of death from any cause (P<0.0001), CVD (cardiovascular disease; P=0.045) and cancer (P=0.01) after adjusting for dietary and body weight recommendation adherence scores and other covariates,” they reported. “Meeting the dietary recommendations was not associated with mortality after adjusting for physical activity recommendation adherence scores.”

Among survivors in the “other cancers” category (cancers other than breast, colorectal and endometrial cancers) only, cancer mortality was significantly lower among women with the highest overall lifestyle adherence scores, compared to those with the lowest scores (HR, 0.55, 95% CI, 0.34-0.90).