According to a recent survey of more than 1,500 adult cancer survivors across the United States, those who have recovered from cancer are more likely to have poor diets than non-survivors. This is somewhat surprising, but points to a much larger issue regarding the current state of American diets.
Dietary Trends of Cancer Survivors
You may naturally assume that cancer survivors, forever conscious of their health, would maintain healthier diets after recovery, but this isn’t true. The study involved 1,500 US participants surveyed between 1999 and 2010, as well as 3,100 people never previously diagnosed with cancer. Participants were asked to recall what they’d eaten over the previous 24 hours and the results were surprising, to say the least.
Cancer survivors scored a 47 out of 100 when it came to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Participants who had never had cancer scored a slightly better 48. When comparing the two groups, one thing became evident. Survivors, as a whole, consumed more fat, alcohol and added sugar. They also tended to include less fiber in their daily diets. The cancer survivors consumed less than the recommended daily amounts of vitamin E, vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Lastly, they consumed more than the recommended levels of salt and saturated fat.
The numbers don’t exactly lead to a clear conclusion, but researchers do have their theories. “One possibility is that their diets were poor before, and they’re still poor now,” the study’s co-author Wendy Demark-Wahnefried said. “After you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, sometimes you might say, ‘What the heck, what’s a brownie?’ That could be a factor. We really don’t know what drives these decisions.”
The study looked at four major types of cancer – breast, lung, colon, and prostate – and found that lung cancer survivors had the worst diets, whereas breast cancer survivors had the healthiest. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, “The differences may be due to differences in cancer symptoms and treatment-associated side effects that can impact diet or psychosocial factors, such as anxiety and depression associated with different cancer diagnoses.”
The State of Dieting in the U.S.
With such an emphasis on eating healthy, doing away with bad nutritional habits and living well, the consumer marketplace has become saturated with myths, misconceptions and false claims. Instead of listening to knowledgeable independent sources, consumers are allowing marketing messages and unsubstantiated myths to rule their daily habits.
As an example, many people have fallen prey to the glamorous “3 Day Diet.” The diet claims you can lose 10 pounds per week by simply following a three-day diet each week. The premise is that you spend three days on and four days off, but there are far too many flaws to count in this setup. Furthermore, the weight you do lose is largely water weight. That means it’ll come back just as quickly as it came off.
Other fad diets include the 17 Day Diet, the Dukan Diet and the Atkins Diet. While they may sound great, most of these are nothing more than marketing gimmicks. Bringing the issue back to the report mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s clear that the average American’s diet is lacking because of a combination of misinformation and a lack of action.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a cancer survivor or not. The healthier you eat, the lower your risk is of developing a dangerous disease or illness. Healthy food creates healthy lives, and that’s the basic truth Americans need to hear.