Research Research and Professional Briefs| Volume 114, ISSUE 6, P932-937, June 2014

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Usual Dietary Intake among Female Breast Cancer Survivors Is Not Significantly Different from Women with No Cancer History: Results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2006

Published:October 26, 2013DOI:


      Dietary intake is a modifiable behavior that may reduce the risk of recurrence and death among breast cancer survivors. Cancer survivors are encouraged to consume a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains and limit red meat, processed meat, and alcohol intake. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2006), this study examined whether breast cancer survivors and women with no history of cancer differed in the distribution of usual intake of foods included in the dietary recommendations for preventing cancer and recurrences. Participants completed one or two 24-hour dietary recalls. The food groups included in this analysis were whole fruit; total vegetables; dark green and orange vegetables; whole grains; red meat; processed meat; alcohol; and calories from solid fat, alcohol, and added sugar. The National Cancer Institute Method was used to estimate the distribution of usual intake and to compare breast cancer survivors (n=102) to noncancer respondents (n=2,684). Using age and cancer survivor as covariates, subgroup estimates of usual intake were constructed. No significant group differences were found, except that survivors reported a greater intake of whole grains. More than 90% of both groups did not meet recommendations for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; 75.4% and 70.2%, respectively, consumed less than the red meat recommendation; and <10% of either group met the recommendation for percent energy from solid fat, alcohol, and added sugar. The diet of breast cancer survivors was not significantly different from women with no history of cancer.


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      B.-J. Milliron is an assistant professor, Nutrition Sciences Department, College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA; at the time of the study, she was a postdoctoral fellow, Cancer Control and Survivorship, Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.


      M. Z. Vitolins is vice chair and a professor, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.


      J. A. Tooze is a professor, Department of Biostatistical Sciences, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.