Many can­cer sur­vivors eat poorly, study finds

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

One might ex­pect can­cer sur­vivors to be fa­nat­i­cally healthy eaters, but a new study sug­gests they eat a lit­tle worse than peo­ple who never had can­cer.

Sur­vey re­sults from more than 1,500 U.S. adult can­cer sur­vivors found they were less likely than oth­ers to ad­here to na­tional di­etary guide­lines. The find­ings raise ques­tions about whether on­col­o­gists should do more to ed­u­cate can­cer pa­tients about the health ben­e­fits of im­prov­ing their di­ets.

“In the past, when a per­son was di­ag­nosed with can­cer, we kind of gave the mes­sage that they should go home, eat what­ever they want, put their feet up,” said study co-au­thor Wendy Demark-Wah­ne­fried, a nutri­tion sci­en­tist and as­so­ciate di­rec­tor at Univer­sity of Alabama at Birm­ing­ham Com­pre­hen­sive Can­cer Cen­ter.

“But most peo­ple with can­cer are go­ing to sur­vive their can­cer at least five years,” she added. “The mes­sage has changed: The chances are you are go­ing to sur­vive.”

With sur­vival, she said, comes greater risk of a re­turn of can­cer or some other dis­eases. But bet­ter nutri­tion could po­ten­tially im­prove their odds, Demark-Wah­ne­fried said.

Un­healthy di­ets have been linked to higher rates of can­cer. The re­search doesn’t clar­ify why the di­ets of can­cer sur­vivors are un­health­ier, and it’s pos­si­ble they ac­tu­ally be­gan to eat bet­ter af­ter they be­came ill.

The study in­volved just over 1,500 U.S. can­cer sur­vivors sur­veyed from 1999 to 2010, and nearly 3,100 peo­ple never di­ag­nosed with can­cer. Par­tic­i­pants re­called what they ate over the pre­vi­ous 24 hours.

Can­cer sur­vivors scored only about 47 out of 100 on ad­her­ence to U.S. Di­etary Guide­lines for Amer­i­cans. Con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles and whole grains was es­pe­cially poor, the re­searchers said. Adults who had not had can­cer scored some­what bet­ter -- about 48 over­all.

Com­pared to those who had not had can­cer, the sur­vivors con­sumed a bit more fat, added sugar and al­co­hol. They also ate a lit­tle less fiber, the find­ings showed.

Over­all, the can­cer sur­vivors also failed to con­sume the rec­om­mended daily amounts of vi­ta­min D, vi­ta­min E, potas­sium and cal­cium. And they went be­yond rec­om­mended lev­els of sat­u­rated fat and salt, ac­cord­ing to the re­port pub­lished online Oct. 13 in Can­cer.

The sur­veys didn’t ex­am­ine when the par­tic­i­pants were di­ag­nosed with can­cer, so it’s not known how the tim­ing of their ill­ness might have af­fected their eat­ing habits, the study au­thors pointed out.

“One pos­si­bil­ity is that their di­ets were poor be­fore, and they’re still poor now,” Demark-Wah­ne­fried said. “Af­ter you’ve been di­ag­nosed with can­cer, some­times you might say, ’What the heck, what’s a brownie?’ That could be a fac­tor. We re­ally don’t know what drives these de­ci­sions.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.