A recent study examined adherence of cancer survivors to federal dietary guidelines. Dietary modifications can delay or help prevent many of the health concerns faced by survivors.
Researchers, based at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, reviewed the diets of 1,533 persons who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010.
The diets were compared to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010.
The investigators found that cancer survivors showed poor adherence to the guidelines, particularly with regard to consumption of grains and green vegetables, although adherence did improve with increasing age among some survivors.
Adherence was slightly lower for cancer survivors than for cancer-free respondents (total Healthy Eating Index score of 47.2 vs 48.3, respectively, of a possible 100).
Active smokers and survivors with lower education (highest level was high school) displayed worse diet quality and adherence.
Of the four major US cancer types—breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer—breast cancer survivors demonstrated the best adherence and lung cancer survivors the worst.
Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, leader of the study, stated that oncology care providers can play an important role in reinforcing the importance of a good diet for cancer survivors. Results of this study were published online in the journal Cancer.
While most cancer survivors in the United States are motivated to seek information about food choices and dietary changes to improve their health, a new study comparing their dietary patterns to federal guidelines indicates that they often fall short.