Cancer survivors have poorer health behaviors

March 1, 2012

Cancer survivors are more likely than their healthy counterparts to be currentsmokers, to rate their overall health as "poor," and to report less participation in moderate to strenuous exercise according to the results of a study from the Mayo Clinic.

Cancer survivors are more likely than their healthy counterparts to be current smokers, to rate their overall health as "poor," and to report less participation in moderate to strenuous exercise, according to the results of a study from the Mayo Clinic.

The authors reviewed the health behaviors and previous cancer histories of 18,510 women age 35 years and older presenting for screening mammography. Almost 15% of the women reported a cancer history. Only 13.6% of the cancer survivors compared with 21.5% of the women without a cancer history reported their health as "excellent." Similarly, they were more likely to rate their overall health as poor (15.8% vs 9.1%, respectively).

Compared with 63.3% of women who never had cancer, 56.5% of the cancer survivors reported engaging in regular moderate or strenuous exercise. Cancer survivors, particularly those between the ages of 30 and 49, were more likely to smoke than those who never had cancer (6.3% vs 5.5%, respectively) and they were less likely than noncancer participants to use alcohol monthly or more frequently (66.9% vs 71.4%). Younger survivors (age 30 to 49 years) were the most frequent (79.2%) regular drinkers, defined as at least one drink per month.

Rausch SM, Millay S, Scott C, et al. Health behaviors among cancer survivors receiving screening mammography. Am J Clin Oncol. 2012;35(1):22-31.