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Survivors Not More Likely to Engage in Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN
There is limited knowledge about cancer survivors and what researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center term “risky behaviors” (eg, smoking, inactivity, poor nutrition). The researchers examined data from the 2013 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance to compare the lifestyle behaviors of cancer survivors to people with no history of cancer.
Cancer survivors had similar rates of physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, and other risky health behaviors as people not diagnosed with cancer. Smoking was more prevalent among cancer survivors, particularly women, but also was associated with smoking prior to a cancer diagnosis. Heavy or “binge” drinking was lower among male survivors than men with no cancer history. There were no differences between the groups for fruit and vegetable intake or body mass index.

The researchers concluded that cancer survivors are not more likely than the general population to fully engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors, and that interventions to increase physical activity and smoking cessation programs are needed. The study findings were published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.
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