Giving Fitbits to cancer patients could help them live longer

Giving cancer patients fitness trackers could improve their chances of survival, according to new research.

Doctors found that patients with higher step counts had mortality rates that were up to a third lower than other patients.

Experts said the findings could even lead to doctors prescribing steps to their patients, rather than traditional medication.

The study, involving the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden Hospital, found that the link between activity levels and survival rates was incredibly strong.

As a result of the findings, doctors at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference announced that wearable fitness devices were set to become a standard part of treatment in future, and that there are already 70 clinical trials underway.

Another study of patients in the US with advanced cancer also found that step count had a dramatic impact on survival times.

The study of 37 patients found that those who did an extra 1,000 steps every day were twice as likely to be alive at the end of the six month study.

‘It may be that we are able to say to patients; getting your step count from an average of 4,000 steps a day to say 6,000 or 8,000 steps could be more useful than being prescribed medication,’ said researcher Dr Andrew Hendifar, from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Professor Johann de Bono, from the ICR study, added: ‘We think patients with cancer can have their fitness levels monitored by Fitbit. This can help doctors know how well they will be able to cope with treatments. It can also give us an idea how long they have to live.

‘Simply put, if you are less fit you are less likely to do well and die quickly. But it also encourages patients to look at their step count and be more fit and active, which can help them get better.

‘This small trial shows the fittest patients were a third less likely to die.’

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