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Distress Linked to Lower Activity in Cancer Survivors

Somatization, cancer appraisal associated with physical activity levels in colon cancer survivors

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Colorectal cancer survivors who show high levels of somatization, or physical symptoms of psychological distress, are less likely to be physically active, while patients who have a more positive view of their cancer are more likely to be physically active, according to the results of a study published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Suzanne K. Chambers, Ph.D., from Cancer Council Queensland in Australia, and colleagues surveyed 978 colorectal cancer survivors regarding psychological distress (anxiety, depression, somatization and cancer threat appraisal) and physical activity at various times up to 36 months after diagnosis.

The investigators found that after adjusting for other variables, patients with higher levels of somatization had higher levels of physical inactivity (relative risk ratio, 1.12) and insufficient physical activity (relative risk ratio, 1.05). In contrast, patients who had a more positive appraisal of their cancer were less likely to be inactive (relative risk ratio, 0.95) or insufficiently active (relative risk ratio, 0.96). Patients who were fatigued, current smokers or obese were more likely to be inactive, the researchers report. High levels of anxiety were associated with a lower likelihood of increased activity in the future, the authors note.

"Cancer survivors who experience somatization and anxiety are at greater risk of physical inactivity," Chambers and colleagues conclude. "The lack of a clear relationship between higher psychological distress and increasing physical activity argues against distress as a motivator to exercise in these patients."

Abstract
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