US cancer survivors are not more likely than the general population to engage in all healthy lifestyle behaviors, a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship has shown.1

For the study, researchers sought to describe and compare lifestyle behaviors, including alcohol consumption, nutrition, physical activity, and smoking, among cancer survivors and people without cancer.

Investigators analyzed data from the 2013 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System in order to examine associations between each group and lifestyle behaviors.

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Results showed that cancer survivors were slightly more likely to attempt smoking cessation, were more likely be physically inactive, and were less likely to binge drink compared with people without cancer. Researchers found that the prevalence of smoking was lower among male survivors than males with no cancer history, whereas it was higher among female survivors than females without cancer.

The study further demonstrated that the prevalence of heavy drinking was lower among male survivors than males with no cancer history, but there was no difference in binge drinking prevalence among females. There were also no differences in the prevalence of fruit and vegetable consumption or body mass index between the 2 groups.

“Cancer survivors are at increased risk for comorbid conditions, and acceptance of healthy behaviors may reduce dysfunction and improve long-term health,” the authors conclude. “Ultimately, opportunities exist for clinicians to promote lifestyle changes that may improve the length and quality of life of their patients.”

Clinicians may need to improve their communication in order to reduce physical inactivity among cancer survivors and cigarette smoking among female survivors in particular.


1. Mowls DS, Brame LS, Martinez SA, et al. Lifestyle behaviors among US cancer survivors [published online ahead of print January 28, 2016]. J Cancer Surviv. doi:10.1007/s11764-016-0515-x.