Food insecure cancer survivors continue to smoke after their diagnosis despite not having enough to eat: implications for policy and clinical interventions

  • Hermine PoghosyanEmail author
  • Samuel V. Scarpino
Brief report



This cross-sectional study examined whether food insecurity among cancer survivors is associated with smoking status and quit attempt.


Data from the 2015 behavioral risk factor surveillance system, social context module on 6,481 adult cancer survivors, were used in this study. Outcome variables were smoking status and quit attempt. Key independent variable was food insecurity. We estimated adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using weighted multivariable logistic regression models while controlling for individual-level demographic, socioeconomic, clinical, and behavioral characteristics.


About 19.0% of cancer survivors were current smokers, out of whom 60.4% made attempt to quit smoking in the past 12 months, and 26.2% reported experiencing food insecurity in the past 12 months. Food insecurity was significantly associated with smoking status and quit attempt after controlling for individual-level characteristics. The odds of being a current smoker, [AOR 1.45 (95% CI 1.10–2.02)], and making quit attempt, [AOR 1.74 (95% CI 1.10, 2.83)], were higher for food insecure cancer survivors compared to food secure cancer survivors.


Food insecurity, in addition to smoking, may hinder the progress of care and treatment, requiring the development of new policies for routine food insecurity screening among cancer survivors. Efforts should be focused on identifying food insecure cancer survivors, targeting their smoking behavior, and offering them appropriate nutritional and smoking cessation interventions.


Tobacco use Smoking quit attempt Food insecurity Cancer survivorship 



The author(s) received no financial support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing, Bouvé College of Health SciencesNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Network Science InstituteNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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