A new study shows that having bad health habits can mean worse outcomes if you have cancer. Patients with head and neck cancer were studied by researchers who asked about five health habits: smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.
Those shown to have the shortest survival rate were smokers.
Excessive drinking and a diet that did not include the recommended amount of fruits also led to poorer survival rates. Surprisingly the amount of vegetables included in the diet did not seem to play as large a role as the amount of fruits.
Decreased survival rates were also observed in patients who did not exercise regularly. Some behaviors, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, can, of course, be interrelated.
While we know that having a healthy lifestyle can help lower the risk of getting certain cancers, this is one of the first studies to show that having a healthy lifestyle can improve your outcome if you do get cancer.
This new study may encourage oncologists to address behavioral issues in addition to providing traditional cancer treatment using medication, chemotherapy, and radiation. It should encourage us all to improve our health habits as well.