Childhood cancer survivors do not eat healthier than their peers

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According to a new study published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, patients that survived cancer as a child do not follow the American Cancer Society's (ACS) guidelines on healthy living. The National Cancer Institute-funded Chicago Healthy Living Study found that childhood cancer survivors do not more closely follow these guidelines than their peers without cancer.


The team, led by Drs. Stolley and Sharp of the University of Illinois interviewed 431 childhood cancer survivors between ages 18 and 59 years about their health. All participants were diagnosed with advanced cancer before their 21st birthdays. The team found that on average survivors smoked less and had a body mass index of approximately 1.2 lower than their cancer-free peers.


The survivors consumed less fiber, and only about 18% ate five fruits or vegetables per day; however, survivors exercised more than the control group. Women, non-smokers, and people who believed they were healthy comprised the 0.7% of survivors who adhered fully to the ACS healthy living guidelines.


Childhood cancer survivors have a higher incidence of developing second malignancies, heart disease, obesity, and psychosocial problems. Oncology nurses can encourage their patients to live healthier lives by adhering to these guidelines.

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Having survived cancer as a child does not necessarily have a ripple effect.

Having survived cancer as a child does not necessarily have a ripple effect that makes people lead a healthier lifestyle once they grow up.

In fact, in a report derived from a National Cancer Institute-funded study of childhood cancer survivors known as the Chicago Healthy Living Study, investigators found that childhood cancer survivors in no way adhere more closely to guidelines on healthy eating than their cancer-free peers.

The findings are published in Springer's Journal of Cancer Survivorship. Childhood cancer survivors face different health-care challenges and are more susceptible to dying earlier than the general population. They have a higher risk of second cancers, heart disease, body weight disorders and psychosocial problems. Therefore the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity encourages the efforts of cancer survivors to lead healthier lifestyles.

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