WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. June 5, 2013 Cancer survivors who live in rural areas aren't as healthy as their urban counterparts, according to new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Kathryn E. Weaver, Ph.D., assistant professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest Baptist, said that this study, which builds on previous research showing that rural cancer survivors suffer worse health after cancer, looks at the role of health behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity.
"It is concerning that we found higher rates of health-compromising behaviors among rural survivors, when we know cancer survivors who smoke, are overweight, or are inactive are at higher risk for poor outcomes, including cancer recurrence and second cancers," Weaver said.
Weaver and colleagues studied data from the 2006-2010 National Health Interview Survey, a population-based sample of adults conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They looked at self-reported behaviors, including leisure-time physical activity, alcohol use, smoking status, maintenance of healthy body weight, for all cancer survivors 18 years of age or older, as well as the survivors' overall health status and their rural or urban residence. The sample included 1,642 survivors who resided in a rural county and 6,162 who resided in an urban county.
"One of the more dramatic findings is that 25 percent of rural cancer survivors were smoking, compared to only 16 percent for urban survivors," Weaver said.
In addition, 51 percent of rural survivors reported engaging in no regular physical activity compared to 39 percent for urban survivors. There was no significant difference in overweight/obesity between the groups, with rural survivors at 66 percent and urban at 63 percent. Alcohol consumption was lower for rural survivors at 46 percent compared to 59 percent for urban survivors.
|Contact: Bonnie Davis|
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center