Breaking deadly health habits

According to a just-released study in the journal Cancer, many lung and colorectal cancer patients continue to smoke even after their diagnoses. Nearly 40 percent of lung patients were smokers when they received their diagnosis and 14 percent were still smoking five months later. The similar statistics for colorectal cancer were 14 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

It is easy to shake a judgmental finger at people who continue destructive health habits after chronic-condition diagnoses. However, it underscores that change is difficult even after life-altering chronic conditions.

At least 40 percent of smokers who survive a heart attack continue to smoke a year later. In a group of more than 1,200 overweight heart-attack survivors, the average weight loss was .2 percent. That is less than a one-pound loss for a 220-pound man.

In another study, 884 of 2,500 heart-attack patients had eaten fast food at least once a week one month before the attack. Nearly all receive dietary advice before leaving the hospital. Three months later, 503 were still eating fast food at least once a week.