Unhealthy diet prevalent in childhood cancer survivors

01 Apr 2024
Endocrine disruptors abundant in fast foods

Many adult survivors of childhood cancer do not adhere to a healthful dietary pattern, particularly racial minorities and those with a lower socioeconomic status, reveals a study.

Using a validated food frequency questionnaire, 3,022 adult survivors of childhood cancer (mean age 31 years) and 497 noncancer control participants in the St Jude Lifetime Cohort reported their diet over the past 12 months.

Foods consumed together were identified through a factor analysis with 48 predefined food groups. Cluster analysis with energy-adjusted factor scores was also used to classify survivors into a mutually exclusive dietary pattern, which served as the primary endpoint.

The authors used multivariable multinomial logistic regression to cross-sectionally examine the relationship of sociodemographic and lifestyle factors with dietary patterns among cancer survivors.

Four dietary patterns were identified, of which the most common among survivors of childhood cancer was fast-food pattern (36 percent), followed by the Western contemporary (30 percent), the plant-based (20 percent), and the animal-based (14 percent) patterns. On the other hand, plant-based (38 percent) and fast-food patterns (29 percent) were prevalent in controls.

Among cancer survivors, younger age, male sex, educational attainment, and physical inactivity all correlated with the fast-food, animal-based, or fast-food dietary pattern.

Non-Hispanic Black survivors were two to five times more likely to consume fast foods (odds ratio [OR], 2.76, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.82‒4.18) or meat (OR, 5.61, 95 percent CI, 3.58‒8.78) than non-Hispanic White survivors consuming a plant-based diet.

In addition, survivors living in the poorest areas were two to three times more likely to adhere to the fast-food, Western contemporary, or animal-based diet.

“Interventions to improve diet and health in childhood cancer survivors need to concurrently address disparities that contribute to adherence to healthy dietary practices,” the authors said.

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