Background: Behavioral risk factors have significant biomedical and psychosocial effects for cancer survivors. Representative data on the prevalence of a wide range of behavioral risk factors among cancer survivors are lacking.
Methods: We used data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey to examine the prevalence of smoking, physical inactivity, dietary risk factors, being overweight, risky alcohol use, and sun protection behaviors among a sample of 32,346 adults, 1646 of whom were cancer survivors.
Results: With the exception of smoking, there were few differences in age-stratified behavioral risk factor prevalences between cancer survivors and noncancer controls. Among the cancer survivors, there were few differences in behavioral risk factor prevalence rates for survivors of different cancers. Exceptions included a high rate of current smoking for cervical and uterine cancer survivors. The prevalences of physical inactivity, dietary risk factors, and being overweight were relatively high across cancer types, whereas the prevalence of risky drinking was particularly low.
Conclusions: This study provides benchmark estimates of the prevalence of multiple cancer-related behavioral risk factors among U.S. cancer survivors. The results reveal considerable opportunities for behavioral risk factor interventions among cancer survivors. We discuss implications of the results and outline directions for future research.