Internet users more likely to engage in cancer-preventive behaviors

Older men and women who used the internet were more likely to participate in screening for colorectal cancer, participate in physical activities, eat healthily, and smoke less, compared with those who did not use the internet, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

A large, population-based, cohort study of older adults in England, called the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, collected data from men and women aged 50 or older, and found that men and women who were consistent internet users were twice as likely to participate in colorectal than nonusers. Both men and women who used the internet consistently were also 50 percent more likely to take part in regular physical activity, 24 percent more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and 44 percent less likely to be current smokers. There was, however, no association between internet use and participation in breast cancer screening among women.

"We accounted for sociodemographic factors that influence internet use and various measures of physical capabilities and cognitive function that decline with age, and still found an association between internet use and cancer-preventive behaviors," said Christian von Wagner, Ph.D., senior lecturer in behavioral research in early diagnosis of cancer at the University College London, United Kingdom. "The interesting aspect here is a dose-response relationship between internet use and cancer preventive-behaviors: Intermittent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than never-users, and consistent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than intermittent users."

Von Wagner and colleagues, however, identified a "digital divide." Internet use was higher in younger, male, white, wealthier, and more educated participants and lower in older, less wealthy, and nonwhite individuals with physical disabilities. "It is important that policymakers recognize the role internet use plays in influencing inequalities in cancer outcomes, and help increase access to the internet among this demographic," he said.

The researchers used data from 5,943 respondents who answered questions collected in wave one in 2002, and were followed up with questions every two years in waves two to five, until 2011. Questions included internet/email use, self-reported colorectal and , , eating habits, physical and cognitive abilities, and demographics.

Among the study participants, 41.4 percent reported not using the internet, 38.3 percent reported using the internet in waves one to three (intermittent users), and 20.3 percent reported using the internet in all five waves (consistent users).

Related Stories

Women smokers may have greater risk for colon cancer than men

date Apr 30, 2013

Smoking increased the risk for developing colon cancer, and female smokers may have a greater risk than male smokers, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Associ ...

Study links moderate activity to lower breast cancer risk

date Oct 04, 2013

A large new American Cancer Society study adds to increasing evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Researchers say moderate recreational activity was associated with a ...

Recommended for you

Psychologists aim to help Dr Google

date 1 hour ago

Psychologists are to improve online health information on lung cancer after research showed that family members are more likely to search online to encourage loved ones to seek help.

New method detects more breast cancer in screening

date 6 hours ago

Tomosynthesis detects 40% more breast cancers than traditional mammography does, according to a major screening study from Lund University, Sweden. This is the first large-scale study to compare the screening ...

Women's use of talc powder may be tied to ovarian cancer

date May 05, 2015

Deane Berg's doctor called her in the day after Christmas 2006 to give her the crushing news. She'd had her ovaries removed, the pathology results were back, and the information could not have been much worse. Berg had stage ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.