UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Diet Quality among Cancer Survivors and Participants without Cancer: A Population-Based, Cross-Sectional Study in the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health Project Gu, Qianqian; Dummer, Trevor B. J.; Spinelli, John J.; Murphy, Rachel A.


Cancer survivors are encouraged to have a healthy lifestyle to reduce health risks and improve survival. An understanding of health behaviors, such as diet, is also important for informing post-diagnosis support. We investigated the diet quality of cancer survivors relative to participants without cancer, overall and by cancer site and time from diagnosis. A cross-sectional study design within the Atlantic PATH study was used which included 19,973 participants aged 35 to 69 years from Atlantic Canada, of whom 1,930 were cancer survivors. A diet quality score was derived from a food frequency questionnaire. Comparisons of diet quality between cancer survivors and non-cancer controls, cancer site and years since diagnosis were examined in multivariable multi-level models. Cancer survivors had a mean diet quality of 39.1 out of 60 (SD: 8.82) and a higher diet quality than participants without cancer (mean difference: 0.45, 95% CI: 0.07, 0.84) after adjustment for confounders. Odds of high diet quality was greater in breast cancer survivors than participants without cancer (OR = 1.42, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.90), and higher among survivors diagnosed ≤2 years versus >10 years (OR = 1.71, 95% CI: 1.05, 2.80). No other differences by cancer site and years since diagnosis were observed. The difference in diet quality, although statistically significant, is unlikely to be meaningful, suggesting that cancer survivors have similar diet quality as participants without cancer. There was considerable room for dietary improvement regardless of cancer status, highlighting the need for dietary interventions, especially among cancer survivors, who are at higher risk for secondary health problems.

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