Changes in diet, physical activity, and supplement use among adults diagnosed with cancer

J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Mar;103(3):323-8. doi: 10.1053/jada.2003.50045.


Objective: To investigate the prevalence and predictors of changes in diet, physical activity, and dietary supplement use among cancer patients. Design/subjects Telephone interviews of a population-based sample of 126 breast, 114 prostate, and 116 colorectal cancer patients from the state of Washington.

Analysis: Logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio as a measure of the association of participant characteristics with lifestyle changes in the 12 months before the interview.

Results: Overall, 66.3% of patients reported making lifestyle changes: 40.4% made one or more dietary changes, 20.8% added new physical activity, and 48.0% started taking new dietary supplements. Compared with men, women were 2.2 times more likely to take new dietary supplements (P <.01). Compared with patients aged 35 to 59, those aged 60 to 69 and 70 or older were statistically significantly less likely to make dietary changes (odds ratio = 0.39 and 0.54, respectively) or to take new supplements (odds ratio = 0.42 and 0.69, respectively). Compared with patients who received only one medical treatment, those receiving three or more treatments were more likely to make dietary changes (odds ratio = 2.6) or to start new physical activity (odds ratio = 3.0). Patients diagnosed 12 to 24 months before the interview were as likely to report making lifestyle changes as those diagnosed within one year of the interview. Having a stronger desire for personal control or internal locus of control predicted use of new dietary supplements (P for trend <.05 for both). Applications/conclusions Cancer survivors are likely to be making lifestyle changes and represent a group that could benefit from counseling on diet and physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex Factors
  • Washington