In a nutshell
This study examined whether a healthy diet can improve the quality of life of women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. The authors found that women who followed healthy dietary advice had an improvement in the quality of their life during chemotherapy, reducing nausea, vomiting, and increasing appetite.
Breast cancer is one of the most common tumors in women around the globe. Chemotherapy (CT) before surgery is commonly used to shrink a large size tumor. It can make it easier to remove and can reduce the risk of cancer returning by killing any cancer cells that have migrated to other tissues. However, CT often has many side effects such as loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, and other intestinal symptoms. These side effects can reduce the quality of life of patients and can even lead to patients deciding to stop treatment. All this can increase the risk of cancer coming back.
Therefore, it is important to evaluate if certain factors such as diet and lifestyle can reduce the risk of side effects of CT in patients with breast cancer.
Methods & findings
34 women with breast cancer were included in this study. All patients received CT and anti-nausea medications. All women received dietary advice for reducing nausea and vomiting such as eating healthy fresh foods, small meals, avoiding added sugars, excess salt, spicy, greasy or fried foods. Patients were then divided into 2 groups. Group 1 received a personalized diet plan. Group 2 was recommended to follow a usual diet based on recommended measures (control group).
Quality of life was evaluated using a questionnaire that takes into consideration different elements, such as a person's strength (carrying bags, walking), ability to perform daily activities (working, hobbies), sleeping and eating, depression and anxiety, and other medical conditions (pain, nausea, and other digestive symptoms). Patients were followed up after an average of 63 days.
Women in group 2 had lower handgrip strength compared to women in group 1. In addition, women in group 1 were more likely to be autonomous and perform daily activities, resulting in fewer women stopping treatment. Also, women in group 1 had fewer nausea/vomiting episodes, higher appetite, and lower frequencies of abdominal pain and leukopenia (a reduction of the number of white blood cells) compared to group 2.
The bottom line
This study showed that following a personalized, healthy diet during chemotherapy can help improve the quality of life in patients with breast cancer.
The fine print
Both groups received diet advice on how to eat better. Also, the number of patients was small. This might affect the results.
Discuss with your doctor about a healthy diet.
Published By :
Feb 10, 2021
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