Differences in chronic conditions and lifestyle behaviour between people with a history of cancer and matched controls

Narelle M Berry, Michelle D Miller, Richard J Woodman, John Coveney, James Dollman, Catherine R Mackenzie, Bogda Koczwara

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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether people with a history of cancer have a higher prevalence of chronic conditions or different lifestyle behaviour compared with controls. 

DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional, self-reported data from a telephone survey conducted between 1 January 2010 and 31 March 2012 of adult residents of South Australia who self-reported a previous cancer diagnosis (cases) and randomly selected age- and sex-matched residents with no cancer diagnosis (controls). 

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported medically diagnosed cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes and osteoporosis; lifestyle behaviour (smoking, physical activity and diet); body mass index (BMI); psychological distress and self-reported health. 

RESULTS: A total of 2103 cases and 4185 controls were included in the analyses. For men, after adjusting for age, cancer survivors were more likely than controls to have ever had cardiovascular disease (P<0.001), high blood pressure (P=0.001), high cholesterol (P<0.001) and diabetes (P=0.04). These associations remained significant after controlling for socioeconomic status (SES), with the exception of high blood pressure (P=0.09). For women, there was an increased prevalence of high cholesterol (P=0.005), diabetes (P=0.02) and osteoporosis (P=0.005) in cancer cases, but after adjusting for SES, these associations were no longer significant. Women with a previous cancer diagnosis were more likely than controls to have ever smoked, after adjusting for SES (P=0.001). There were no other differences in lifestyle behaviour or BMI between cases and controls for men or women. 

CONCLUSION: Despite similar lifestyle habits and BMI, the prevalence of chronic conditions was significantly higher among people with a history of cancer than among controls without cancer. This supports the importance of chronic disease management as part of health care after a diagnosis of cancer. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-100
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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