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Lifestyle Affects Survival in Head and Neck Cancers

Smoking is the leading predictor of poor survival in study cohort

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Lifestyle factors, particularly smoking, can have a negative impact on survival for patients with head and neck cancers, according to a report in the March 16 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sonia A. Duffy, Ph.D, R.N, of the University of Michigan School of Nursing in Ann Arbor, and colleagues assembled data on a cohort of 504 new patients with head or neck cancer between 2003 and 2008. The group was surveyed to determine their pre-treatment status for five health-related behaviors: smoking, alcohol use, diet, physical activity and sleep. Patients were resurveyed periodically and the data analyzed using univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models.

The investigators found that smoking was the strongest predictor of poor survival for both current smokers (hazard ratio 2.4) and former smokers (hazard ratio 2.0). Problem drinking, as defined by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, was negatively associated with survival in the univariate analysis (HR 1.4) but not in the multivariate analysis. Fruit consumption and physical activity also were associated with survival only in the univariate analysis (HR 1.6 and 0.95, respectively). Sleep was not associated with survival in either analysis, the researchers report.

"Multicomponent behavioral interventions can be efficacious among head and neck cancer patients, and future research is needed to determine whether changes in the health behaviors after diagnosis can improve survival rates," the authors write.

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