Recently diagnosed cancer survivors are more likely to drink alcohol, use tobacco, and frequent tanning beds than people in later stages of recovery, Medical Xpress cited a research team from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center as saying.
Published in an early online edition of the journal Cancer, the study describes how the same people with a recent diagnosis of cancer are less likely to be physically active, to eat vegetables, and to participate in health screenings.
"There are a number of unique factors that can complicate the future for people with cancer, such as stage of disease, their treatment status, the years since they were diagnosed," said Warren Bickel, an author of the study and a professor at the VTCRI. "We found that, for people who are closer in time to their original diagnosis, they tend to discount the future more."
Researchers surveyed 1,000 people who had been diagnosed at different times with a variety of cancer types at various stages. Across the board, the participants who were most recently diagnosed were more likely to make unhealthy choices, reflecting a devaluation of the future. This inability to value the future as much or more than the present is referred to as delay discounting.
The study offers insight into the decision processes underlying health behaviors of people who have uncertain futures compounded by the physical and emotional trauma cancer can cause, according to Bickel, who is also a professor of psychology in Virginia Tech's College of Science, director of the VTCRI Addiction Recovery Research Center, and co-director of the VTCRI Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors.