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Dietary Changes Among Breast Cancer Patients in Malaysia

Shaharudin, Soraya Hanie BSc; Sulaiman, Suhaina PhD; Shahril, Mohd Razif BSc; Emran, Nor Aina MMed, MBBS; Akmal, Sharifah Noor MD, DCP, MBChB, MIAC

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31824062d1

Background: Breast cancer patients often show an interest in making dietary changes after diagnosis of breast cancer to improve their health condition and prevent cancer recurrence.

Objective: The objective of the study was to determine changes in dietary intake 2 years after diagnosis among breast cancer patients.

Methods: One hundred sixteen subjects were asked to complete a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire, diet recalls, and dietary changes questionnaire to assess dietary intake before and after diagnosis. The information on sociodemographic background, cancer treatment history, and anthropometric indices was also collected.

Results: Seventy-two subjects considered diet as a contributing factor to breast cancer, and 67 subjects changed their dietary habits after breast cancer diagnosis. The reasons for changes in diet were physician and dietitian advice and desire to cure cancer. The sources of information were derived from their physician, mass media, and family members. Total energy, protein, total fat, fatty acids, and vitamin E intake were significantly decreased after diagnosis. Meanwhile, the intake of β-carotene and vitamin C increased significantly after diagnosis. The changes included reduction in red meat, seafood, noodles, and poultry intake. An increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, low-fat milk, and soy products was observed. The subjects tended to lower high-fat foods intake and started to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Conclusion: Breast cancer patients had changed to a healthier diet after breast cancer diagnosis, although the changes made were small.

Implications for Practice: This will be helpful to dietitians in providing a better understanding of good eating habits that will maintain patients’ health after breast cancer diagnosis.

Author Affiliations: Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Ms Shaharudin, Dr Sulaiman, and Mr Shahril); Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu, Malaysia (Mr Shahril); Department of Surgery, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Dr Emran); and Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur (Prof Akmal).

This study was funded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia (IRPA RMK-8 grant 09-02-02-009 BTK/ER/37/1).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Suhaina Sulaiman, PhD, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan RajaMuda Abdul Aziz, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (

Accepted for publication November 2, 2011.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.