New Study Gives Cancer Patients 'Fresh Start' With Healthy Lifestyle
Posted December 24, 2003 3:50 a.m. EST
DURHAM, N.C. — Most people put off making healthy lifestyle changes until their life depends on it. A two-year study at Duke University is designed to help breast and prostate cancer patients make a fresh start with their health.
Larry Odzak's exercise and eating habits changed dramatically a year and a half ago when doctors told him he had a small cancerous tumor on his prostate gland.
"The wake-up call, I guess, comes in with the problem that the cancer might spread," he said.
Now, instead of tacos or other fast food for lunch, Odzak eats healthier with items such as fruits and raw vegetables. He is participating in a Duke University home-based study called Fresh Start.
Officials are tracking the progress of recently diagnosed breast and prostate cancer patients as they follow a structured diet and exercise program. They felt cancer patients would make the best study subjects.
"We almost think it's a teachable moment -- a time when people are very receptive to taking on some lifestyle changes," study project manager Denise Snyder said.
Participants are encouraged to exercise five days a week, 30 minutes a day. Plus, they are supposed to consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and to lower fat to less than 30 percent of total calories.
Healthy eating and exercise are not just beneficial to cancer patients. They are also supposed to help prevent problems with diabetes, heart disease and other cancers down the road.
"They can be prevented. These are things that we can impact with education and prevention with diet and exercise," Snyder said.
Odzak and his wife are taking that advice to heart.
"It did change the food lifestyle, for sure. We're still struggling with the exercise lifestyle to fit it into our busy days," he said.
Fresh Start study participants are guided by material mailed to them and occasional follow-up letters. Four-hundred participants are enrolled worldwide. If you want more information about the study, you can call