Does breast cancer change patients’ dietary habits?
Sommaire de l'article
The results of epidemiological studies on diet and cancer are often difficult to interpret on an individual level and may influence patients' beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. This study investigated the behaviour of breast cancer patients and their attitudes to dietary changes and the need of dietary advice during their disease.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
The study population consisted of breast cancer patients visiting the Department of Oncology in Turku University Hospital for treatment or follow-up in August and September 1999. A questionnaire was given to a total of 123 subjects.
The majority, 65%, were attending the clinic for treatment, 35% for follow-up. Ninety-seven patients (86%) consumed a normal Finnish diet, six (5.3%) were vegetarians and 10 (8.1%) vegetarians consuming fish and chicken occasionally. Eleven patients (8.9%) considered diet a factor contributing to their breast cancer and 38 (31.9%) had changed their dietary habits after the diagnosis of breast cancer. The numbers were higher in younger patients with higher educational background. The main reason for change in diet was the desire to be cured of cancer (52.9% of those patients who had changed their dietary habits), in 11.8% to alleviate the symptoms of nausea and 11.8% were advised by health care professionals. The main changes reported included a reduction in the consumption of animal fat, sugar and red meat and increased consumption of fruit, berries and vegetables. Forty-nine patients (39.8%) used vitamin and mineral supplements and 27 (21.9%) consumed dietary supplements including natural products and probiotics. The source of information on how to change the diet was for 33.3% the mass media, 19.4% were advised by doctors and nurses and 11.1% by dietitians. One-third of the patients expressed a need for more information on dietary factors.
Breast cancer patients' need of control over their own life prompts an interest in alternative dietary habits after diagnosis, the focus being on a healthier diet. Expert dietary information is considered important. Many patients mentioned a lack of precise dietary recommendations for their individual disease situation and depended on information from outside their treatment centre.