Dr. Hong Xue led the study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "Our study is an important step in the fight against cancer," explains Xue. "Now that we know the difference in perceived and actual diet quality among survivors, we can design tailored interventions to improve diets in this population. We know from earlier studies that this can reduce the risk of cancer relapse and improve long-term outcomes."
Xue and colleagues analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005-2014 on 2,361 cancer survivors and 23,114 participants who had not had cancer as a comparison group. They analyzed the nationally representative NHANES data combined with participants' scores on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010, which measures adherence to dietary recommendations, as a measure of diet quality.
They found that cancer survivors' diet quality has not improved over the past 10 years. Additionally, cancer survivors' diets were generally poor as measured by the HEI, although healthier than the diets reported by the general population.
Older participants, those with higher incomes or levels of education, and Hispanic participants were more likely to overestimate their diet quality. Those who overrated their diet quality also had poorer diets overall than those who under-rated their diet quality.
This study was supported in part by research grants: P30 CA016059 "Massey Cancer Center Core Support" (NIH-NCI) and U54TR001366 "Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Treatment and Outcomes: A Transdisciplinary Approach" (NCATS/CTSA). The content is the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funder.
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