This review discusses chronic pain, multiple modifiable lifestyle factors, such as stress, insomnia, diet, obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity, and the relationship between these lifestyle factors and pain after cancer. Chronic pain is known to be a common consequence of cancer treatments, which considerably impacts cancer survivors' quality of life when it remains untreated. Improvements in lifestyle behaviour are known to reduce mortality, comorbid conditions (i.e., cardiovascular diseases, other cancer, and recurrence) and cancer-related side-effects (i.e., fatigue and psychological issues). An inadequate stress response plays an important role in dysregulating the body's autonomic, endocrine, and immune responses, creating a problematic back loop with pain. Next, given the high vulnerability of cancer survivors to insomnia, addressing and treating those sleep problems should be another target in pain management due to its capacity to increase hyperalgesia. Furthermore, adherence to a healthy diet holds great anti-inflammatory potential for relieving pain after cancer. Additionally, a healthy diet might go hand in hand with weight reduction in the case of obesity. Consuming alcohol and smoking have an acute analgesic effect in the short-term, with evidence lacking in the long-term. However, this acute effect is outweighed by other harms on cancer survivors' general health. Last, informing patients about the benefits of an active lifestyle and reducing a sedentary lifestyle after cancer treatment must be emphasised when considering the proven benefits of physical activity in this population. A multimodal approach addressing all relevant lifestyle factors together seems appropriate for managing comorbid conditions, side-effects, and chronic pain after cancer. Further research is needed to evaluate whether modifiable lifestyle factors have a beneficial influence on chronic pain among cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number195
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of clinical medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: A.L. is a research fellow funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (Fonds Wetenschap-pelijk Onderzoek-FWO), Belgium (grant number 11B1920N). E.R. is funded by Stand Up to Cancer (Kom op tegen Kanker-KOTK), a Belgian cancer charity (project code ANI251). L.L. is a postdoctoral research fellow appointed on 2 funded projects, one by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) (grant number G040919N) and one by Stand up to Cancer (KOTK-project code ANI251). S.T.Y. is funded by the Ministry of National Education of the Turkish State as scholarship student for her Ph.D. research program. J.N. and E.R. are holders of a chair on oncological rehabilitation funded by the Berekuyl Academy/European College for Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy, the Netherlands.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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