Researchers from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, offered breast cancer patients nutrition education and showed that the measure not only benefits patients overall health, but can also prevent breast cancer reoccurrence.
The study, titled “Nutrition Education Intervention for Women with Breast Cancer: Effect on Nutritional Factors and Oxidative Stress,” published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, followed 18 patients in an intervention group who received nutrition education and compared the outcomes to 75 patients who did not receive nutrition information.
For one year, the subjects in the intervention group registered their food habits and were given appropriate suggestions for nutritional improvement. Patients in this group also joined meetings and were given a monthly report to enhance their nutrition knowledge.
The main objective of the study was to promote the reduction of red and processed meat consumption while increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Past studies suggested that red and processed meats have detrimental effects on cancer patients but antioxidants present in vegetables and fruits can help alleviate side effects associated with chemotherapy treatment — and lower the risk of cancer reoccurrence.
“Although the sample size was small and data were collected at different times, this study provides evidence that women undergoing breast cancer treatment might benefit from immediate, individualized and detailed nutrition monitoring,” study lead author Cecilia C. Schiavon, MsC, said in a news release.
The study revealed that in the intervention group, patients reduced their red and processed meat consumption by 50 percent when compared to the control group.
Breast cancer patients who received nutritional education increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables, which helped to maintain their body mass index (BMI). On the other hand, the control group patients showed three-times higher BMI than the intervention group, which can be connected to oxidative stress and cancer recurrence.
The study concluded: “This study presents improved dietary changes after a theory-driven nutrition education intervention. Although the sample size is small, it has proven to be clinically relevant.”