Cancer survivors make healthier diet and lifestyle choices than the general population, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow found that most cancer survivors in Scotland eat more fruit and vegetables and stop smoking, but are less likely to be physically active than the general Scottish population.
However, the study published in the British Journal of Cancer also revealed 20% of survivors still smoke, 25% are obese and 17% drink more than the recommended levels of alcohol.
The researchers used data from Scottish Health Surveys spanning 13 years, capturing more than 16,000 people, including 922 living with cancer and 1,257 diagnosed after the survey.
The study found that breast cancer survivors were more likely to eat more fruit and vegetables and have stopped smoking while lung cancer survivors were less likely to be obese.
Dr David Morrison, of the University of Glasgow and author of the report, said: “Some cancer patients might have been inspired to change their behaviour after being diagnosed and others might have been encouraged by their healthcare professionals when going through treatment.
“Compared to the general public, cancer survivors are doing more of the things that we know will improve their health. But there are still many who could benefit from being helped to stop smoking, drink less alcohol, lose weight, increase their physical activity and eat more of their five-a-day.
“Some studies have suggested that exercise, having a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight after cancer treatment may be helpful but it’s important that this fits with any medical advice.
“More research is needed to understand if specific lifestyle changes can reduce the chances of the cancer coming back but a healthy lifestyle is good for general wellbeing.”