Lifestyle after a colorectal cancer diagnosis: working towards evidence-based advice on nutrition and physical activity

People with colorectal cancer often have many questions about nutrition and physical activity during and after treatment. However, evidence-based lifestyle guidelines for this group are lacking.

Prior studies have shown that specific food products, such as red and processed meat, increase the risk of colorectal cancer. On the other hand, dietary fibre and dairy decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. Similar to this, sufficient physical activity decreases the risk of getting colorectal cancer.  

So far, not much is known about the role of nutrition and physical activity during and after treatment of colorectal cancer. Therefore, information needs to be gathered on the association between nutrition and physical activity, and tumour recurrence and survival. There might be many factors playing an important role in this context, such as body composition, type of treatment, and tumour biology. Thus, every patient with colorectal cancer is unique. It is likely that different groups of patients may benefit from different types of advice regarding nutrition and physical activity. 

This project combines data from two large studies: the COLON study from Wageningen University & Research, and the PLCRC-PROTECT study from University Medical Centre Utrecht. The advantage of this collaboration is that the total study population is enlarged. This allows us to study specific groups of patients, and draw more precise conclusions. 

Eventually, we aim to translate our research results into personalised, evidence-based lifestyle advice for people with colorectal cancer. To facilitate wide implementation of these recommendations, we will consult with various healthcare partners in the region, from fitness centre to hospital. This project is part of the Regio Deal Foodvalley, track 2: "Healthy nutrition, from early start to old age", work package 4: ‘’Nutrition for oncology patients’’ (information in Dutch).