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Health Behaviors Vary Among Cancer Survivors

Most aren't smoking, but few eating veggies and exercising; all are related to quality of life

THURSDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- Though only a minority of cancer survivors are meeting standard recommendations for exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption, most are abstaining from smoking, according to research published in the May 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Christopher M. Blanchard, Ph.D., of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 9,105 survivors of female breast, prostate, colorectal, bladder, uterine, or skin melanoma cancer to investigate the proportion meeting 5-A-Day fruit and vegetable consumption, regular physical activity, and tobacco avoidance as recommended by the American Cancer Society.

Only 14.8 to 19.1 percent were following the 5-A-Day recommendation, and 29.6 to 47.3 were following the physical activity recommendation, but 82.6 to 91.6 were abstaining from smoking, the investigators found. Only 5 percent were meeting all three recommendations, the report indicates. Health-related quality of life was generally higher in those meeting recommendations, and these lifestyle behaviors may have additive effects on health-related quality of life, the authors note.

"Although novel, it is concerning that up to 12.5 percent of cancer survivors are not meeting any lifestyle behavior recommendation and less than 10 percent on average across the cancer groups are meeting two or more recommendations. This suggests that it may be important to develop a multi-behavioral lifestyle intervention rather than develop single behavior interventions. Although intervening on multiple behaviors simultaneously represents a challenge from an intervention perspective, doing so may provide an important opportunity to maximize the potency of the intervention from an outcomes perspective," Blanchard and colleagues write.

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