Regular Internet use linked with cancer-defying health practices

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Consistent users of the Internet were more likely than never-users to engage in cancer-preventive behaviors, a large study revealed.

Among 5,943 persons providing information about their Internet use as part of the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, a cohort study of men and women age 50 years and older in England, United Kingdom, 41.4% did not report any Internet use. Another 38.3% were deemed intermittent users, and 20.3% were classified as consistent users. Internet use was higher among younger, male, white, wealthier, more educated respondents than among other respondents.

Multivariable analysis showed that consistent users were twice as likely as never-users to undergo screening for colorectal cancer (but no significant association was seen between Internet use and breast screening for women). Compared with never-users, consistent users also were 50% more likely to engage in weekly moderate/vigorous physical activity and 24% more likely to consume five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day. In addition, consistent users were 44% less likely than never-users to be current smokers.

Consistent users were also more likely than intermittent users to practice cancer-preventive behaviors.

As Christian von Wagner, PhD, of the University College London, in London, United Kingdom, and colleagues concluded in their report for Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Internet use showed a dose-response relationship with cancer-preventive behaviors, even after the researchers controlled for various social, cognitive, and physical correlates of such use. The investigators further noted that promoting Internet use among older adults from all backgrounds could contribute to improving cancer outcomes and reducing inequalities in cancer outcomes.


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