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Breast Cancer survivors, who believe certain health behaviours helped cause their disease, are more likely to change those behaviours after their diagnosis, a new study shows.

The same motivation appears to hold in close relatives of cancer survivors, Drs Carolyn Rabin and Bernadine Pinto of the American Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, report in the medical journal Psycho-Oncology.

"Survivors take an active problem-solving approach to preventing a future incidence of cancer." they write. "They develop their own understanding or representation of the cancer and implement preventive behavioral strategies accordingly."

However, many cancer survivors don't choose to adopt healthier habits after their diagnosis, Rabin and Pinto note.

Previous research shows that 50% of breast cancer survivors don't get the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables daily, for example, while 23% continue to eat diets high in fat, and 28% to43% don't exercise.

The researchers surveyed 65 breast cancer survivors and 33 of their first-degree relatives three months after the patients had completed their cancer treatment, and again three months later.

"Understanding the factors that prompt the initiation of healthy lifestyle changes among cancer survivors and first step towards developing interventions for those unlikely to initiate such behaviour changes on their own," Rabin and Pinto conclude. -Reuters

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