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Depression leads to unhealthy lifestyles for cancer survivors


Survivors of multiple cancers report unhealthier behaviors post-diagnosis than others in a control group. The new study considered answers regarding health status and health behaviors from over four hundred thousand adults using the standardized Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. It may be that the stress and depression experienced by these survivors leads to unhealthful lifestyle choices.

The study found that survivors of multiple cancers reported a poorer physical and mental health compared to survivors of a single cancer. Single cancer survivors reported a poorer overall health compared to the control group.

They also found that survivors of multiple cancers had a greater likelihood of smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco, greater alcohol consumption when drinking, and less physical activity of all types.

Researchers believe the prolonged and heightened stress and depression experienced by the multiple cancer diagnoses may increase a the “allostatic load” which is the natural wear and tear that occurs on body because of stress. The study suggests people experiencing multiple cancers need intervention and early treatment to adopt better, healthier behavior and learn the dangers of over-indulging in risky behavior.

“Future research will need to determine the precise mechanisms that underlie the results found in this research,” said researcher Jessica L. Burris, a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at UK. “Once the mechanisms of action have been identified, such as physiological system dysregulation or risk reduction beliefs, targeted interventions can be developed and tested for the burgeoning group of survivors of multiple cancers.”

Source: Annals of Behavorial Medicine, MedicalNewsToday

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