People who have survived cancer are at greater risk for a recurrence or the development of cancer in a completely different site on the body. Research shows that a diagnosis of cancer does not mean that the survivor is going to revamp their lifestyle habits, reducing cancer risk factors.

Change-up lifestyle habits after a cancer diagnosis

Older Couple Walking Grass

Cancer takes a physical, emotional and financial toll on individuals and their family members. The good news in the cancer world is that there are approximately 14.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. thanks to earlier diagnosis and improvements in treatment options folks are surviving the diagnosis of cancer.

People who have survived cancer are at greater risk for a recurrence or the development of cancer in a completely different site on the body. Research shows that a diagnosis of cancer does not mean that the survivor is going to revamp their lifestyle habits, reducing cancer risk factors. 

Here is more from a cancer survivor study out of the University of Oklahoma: The study included over 47,000 cancer survivors and 407,000 without cancer. Two-thirds of both groups were either overweight or obese.

The survey found that many cancer survivors continued to smoke after diagnosis and treatment. Just over 80 percent did not eat enough of the recommended fruits and vegetables - two groups of foods that offer nutrients that may help prevent cancer. And inactivity was actually higher in the cancer survivor group.

Healthy foods can reduce health complications and extend survival after a cancer diagnosis. If you are a cancer survivor and no longer receiving treatments, and life has settled back into your normal routine, it might be a terrific time to assess lifestyle habits. The American Cancer Society guidelines for survivors suggest:

  • Get to a healthy weight – Can you keep an eye on portions?
  • Lead a physically active life – Can you get in a daily walk?
  • Don’t smoke – Can you find quit smoking classes?
  • Eat well with many fruits and vegetables – Can you plan meals around fruits and vegetables rather than meats?

Begin somewhere, anywhere, to make a few cancer prevention changes in your lifestyle.

Recipes to try:

  • Barley Artichoke Salad on Romaine Lettuce
  • Green Pea Salad
  • Pineapple Fruit Dip

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.