Actualités du Registre Suisse du Cancer de l’Enfant

Low adherence to dietary recommendations in adult childhood cancer survivors

A new study of the SCCR: “Low adherence to dietary recommendations in adult childhood cancer survivors”

The full publication is available here:

Summary of the results

What did we analyse?

We investigated young adults, who had cancer in their childhood, with peers (their siblings and a random sample of people from the general Swiss population). We wanted to find out how well former patients and their peers adhered to national dietary recommendations. We looked which personal characteristics were related with dietary adherence. Finally, we explored if dietary adherence differs between former patients with different cardiovascular disease risks.

Why is this study important?

Poor diet may increase the risk for chronic health problems after cancer treatment. It is therefore important to get a better understanding of eating habits of former patients, especially among those with already an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.

What did we do?

As part of the Swiss Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, we sent a questionnaire to all former Swiss resident patients diagnosed at least 5 years ago, who were 21 years or younger at diagnosis, and were 16-45 years old at the time of the survey. We compared dietary adherence between former patients, their siblings and the general Swiss population and investigated which personal characteristics were related with dietary adherence. We sorted former patients based on their cardiovascular risk, caused by cancer treatment.

What did we find?

We included 1’864 former patients, 698 siblings and 8’258 persons from the general population. Only 43% of the former patients met the recommended dietary intakes for meat, 34% for fruit, 30% for fish, 18% for dairy products, 11% for vegetables, and 7% for combined fruit and vegetables. Results were similar for siblings and the general population. In all groups, dietary adherence was related with gender, parental education level, migration background, language region in Switzerland, smoking, alcohol consumption and sport participation. Adherence was not better for those former patients with high cardiovascular risks.

What does this mean?

This study shows that former childhood cancer patients have similar eating habits as their siblings and the general population, and poorly adhere to current dietary recommendations. Although former patients are not worse in following dietary recommendations, the effect of poor adherence may be greater among them. Former patients may benefit of dietary counselling which could lessen their chance of suffering from treatment-related health Problems.

© ISPM - Université de Berne 2019