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Health-related behaviours in the EpiPorto study: cancer survivors versus participants with no cancer history

Pacheco-Figueiredo, Luísa,b,d; Antunes, Luisc; Bento, Maria Joséc; Lunet, Nunoa,b

European Journal of Cancer Prevention: July 2011 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 348–354
doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0b013e328345f923
Research Papers: Epidemiology

Cancer survivors are at an increased risk of a second primary cancer, partly due to unhealthy behaviours. In a cohort of adults (recruitment: 1999–2003; follow-up – linkage with population-based cancer registry: up to 2009) we compared the baseline exposure to smoking, alcohol and dietary intake and physical activity between: cancer survivors (CS) – cancer diagnosis before baseline (n=53); no cancer (NC) participants – without cancer diagnosis at baseline or during follow-up (n=2261); latent cancer (LC) participants – without cancer diagnosis at baseline but diagnosed during follow-up (n=139). Age-, sex- and education-adjusted prevalences and means were computed, as applicable.

The prevalence of current smoking was nearly 20% among CS and NC (approximately four cigarettes per day) and 30% in LC (seven cigarettes per day). LC had the highest average alcohol intake (25.5 g/day) and NC the lowest (17.0 g/day). The proportion of participants reporting sports practice was higher for CS (50%) than for NC or LC (approximately 33%). CS and NC had higher fruit/vegetable consumption than LC (4.2 and 4.4 vs. 3.8 servings per day). In a composite index on health behaviours (including smoking, physical activity and alcohol and fruit/vegetable intake) the highest and lowest scores were 1.74 for NC and 1.52 for LC respectively, whereas CS scored 1.63.

The exposure to each risk factor appeared comparable in CS and NC, whereas LC tended to have unhealthier behaviours. This may be partially explained by the acquisition of healthier habits by CS after diagnosis, but there still remains scope for improvement, as revealed by the low scores observed for the joint exposure to the main risk factors.

aDepartment of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Porto Medical School

bInstitute of Public Health – University of Porto

cNorth Region Cancer Registry – Portuguese Oncology Institute, Porto

dSchool of Health Sciences, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

Correspondence to Nuno Lunet, Serviço de Higiene e Epidemiologia, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Al. Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal Tel: +351 225513652; fax: +351 225513653; e-mail:

Received August 22, 2010

Accepted February 12, 2011

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.