Modifiable Lifestyle Risk Factors in Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer: A Nationally Representative Study

June, 06, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Given the vulnerable health condition of adult childhood cancer survivors, it is essential that they develop positive health behaviors to minimize controllable health risks. Therefore, we evaluated if adult survivors of non-childhood cancer and childhood cancer differ in the odds of each modifiable risk factor compared with each other and compared with the general population.


This nationally representative study leveraged the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) sample from 2000 to 2018 and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) sample from 2016 to 2021. Our study population included adults diagnosed with cancer when they were ≤14 years of age. Outcomes included physical activity, body mass index (BMI), current smoking, ever-smoking, alcohol use, and binge drinking.


Insufficient physical activity was not statistically significant in the BRFSS, but in the NHIS, childhood cancer survivors had significantly more insufficient physical activity compared with non-childhood cancer survivors (aOR 1.29, P=0.038) and the general population (aOR 1.40, P=0.006). Childhood cancer survivors also had a higher likelihood of being significantly underweight (aOR 1.84, P=0.018) and having ever-smoked (aOR 1.42, P=0.001) compared with the general population in the NHIS. There was a significantly higher likelihood of smoking among childhood cancer survivors in the BRFSS (aOR 2.02, P=0.004).


The likelihoods of many risky behaviors between adult childhood cancer survivors and general population controls were comparable, although rates of physical activity may be decreased, and rates of smoking may be increased among childhood cancer survivors. Targeted interventions are needed to promote healthy behaviors in this vulnerable population.

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