Lifestyle Changes Beneficial for Adults who Battled Childhood Cancer

Modifiable lifestyle factors may impact health‐related quality of life (HRQOL) among long-term childhood cancer survivors, according to research published in the journal Cancer. 

Study authors looked at HRQOL in 2,480 adults who survived childhood cancer in the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study. They asked questions pertaining to dietary intake, physical activity, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption, and measured height and weight. HRQOL was determined using the Medical Outcome Study 36-Item Short Form Survey. Researchers also calculated the physical component summary (PCS), mental component summary (MCS), and eight domain scores of HRQOL. 

Participants who were physically active saw improvements both physically and mentally (PCS β = 3.10, MCS β = 1.48). A healthy diet (PCS β = 1.79) and moderate alcohol consumption (PCS β = 1.14) were both associated with physical improvements, but alcohol consumption was also tied to poorer mental HRQOL (MCS β = −1.13). Smoking cigarettes (PCS β = −2.30, MCS β = −6.49) and being obese (PCS β = −3.29; and MCS β = −1.61) both resulted in decreased HRQOL overall. 

Researchers noted a linear trend with better scores mentally and physically for participants who made multiple positive lifestyle changes (highest vs lowest adherence: PCS β = 7.60, MCS β = 5.76). 

Previous research has found that survivors of childhood cancer are at risk for late effects, including secondary cancers, lung/breathing problems, and heart problems. 

The study authors concluded, “The association between healthy lifestyle factors and HRQOL is cumulative, underscoring the importance of promoting multiple healthy lifestyles to enhance HRQOL in long‐term survivors of childhood cancer.” 

Read about the benefits of exercise in childhood cancer survivors. 

Read about childhood cancer survivors’ risk of neoplasm.