Health behaviors among breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors: a US population- based case-control study, with comparisons by cancer type and gender

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose—The aim of this study is to compare health behaviors between breast, prostate, female, and male colorectal cancer survivors to noncancer controls, stratified by short- and long-term survivors, and between cancer types and genders. Methods—A 3:1 population-based sample of breast (6,259), prostate (3,609), female colorectal (1,082), and male colorectal (816) cancer survivors from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey were matched to noncancer controls on age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, insurance, and region of the US. The likelihood of flu immunization, physical check-up, cholesterol check, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, diet (5-A-Day), smoking, and alcohol use were compared between groups using binomial logistic regression models. Results—Short-term breast cancer survivors were significantly more likely to meet multiple behavioral recommendations, than controls, but the likelihood decreased in the long term. Breast and female colorectal cancer survivors were up to 2.27 (95 % CI 1.90, 2.71) and 1.89 times more likely (95 % CI 1.60, 2.24) to meet the 5-A-Day and BMI recommendations, up to 0.54 times less likely (95 % CI 0.46, 0.64) to drink any alcohol, but were 0.68 times less likely (95%CI 0.49, 0.95) to meet the physical activity recommendation, compared to prostate and male colorectal cancer survivors. Conclusions—Some cancer survivors may engage in better health behaviors shortly after diagnosis, but the majority of cancer survivors do not have better health behaviors than individuals without a history of cancer. However, a consistent pattern of behavioral differences exist between male and female cancer survivors. Implications for Cancer Survivors—Gender differences in health behaviors among cancer survivors may be influenced by perceptions of masculinity/femininity and disease risk. Ongoing health behavioral promotion and disease prevention efforts could be improved by addressing these perceptions