(HealthDay News) — Favorable and unfavorable trends were reported in major cancer risk factors, preventive behaviors and services, and screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Jessica Star, MPH, from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues presented national and state representative prevalence estimates of modifiable cancer risk factors, preventive behaviors and services, and screening between 2019 and 2021, focusing on changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers observed declines in current smoking, physical inactivity, and heavy alcohol consumption between 2019 and 2021, while increases were seen in uptake of human papillomavirus vaccination and stool testing for colorectal cancer screening. There was an increase in prevalence of obesity, and during the same timeframe, fruit consumption and cervical cancer screening decreased. During the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, favorable and unfavorable trends were evident; these trends need ongoing monitoring. Disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status persisted.

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“Ongoing efforts to reduce modifiable risk factors and improve receipt of screening are warranted,” a coauthor said in a statement. “We also must target our interventions among individuals of racially/ethnically diverse groups and socioeconomic position who continue to be greatly affected by cancer.”

One author serves on the Flatiron Health Equity Advisory Board.

Abstract/Full Text