Female Cancer Survivors Need Targeted Dietary Interventions to Promote Healthy Lifestyle


Despite increased physical activity, nutritional intake behavior among female cancer survivors did not improve with an exercise intervention program, according to a randomized-controlled trial.

Female cancer survivors need repetitive assessment and monitoring from their health care teams in order to promote a healthy lifestyle, according to study results presented at the ONS 44th Annual Congress.

“Healthy eating and regular physical activity are critical behaviors to minimize health risks in cancer survivors,” So-Hyun Park Ph.D, ANP-BC, RN, assistant professor at Hunter Bellevue School of Nursing, City University of New York, said during her presentation. “It is important to understand cancer survivors' current diet and whether physical activity levels may affect their dietary behavior.”

In the randomized-controlled trial, the researchers evaluated whether participation in an exercise intervention compared with more passive health promotion would affect nutrient intake over a 12-month period among 154 perimenopausal or early postmenopausal female cancer survivors. Women were assigned to either an aerobic resistance exercise intervention arm or a health promotion arm.

Both groups received written information on dietary guidelines, calcium and vitamin D supplementation and national recommendations for physical activity

Dietary records were collected at baseline, six and 12 months, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) results were collected via telephone for 12 months.

Mean age was 51.9 years. The majority of women were white (88.3%), married (70.0%), had children (78.6%), a high level of education (57% college or graduated high school) and employed (82.0%). The study included survivors of breast cancer (83.1%), gynecologic cancer (11.7%) and lymphoma (5.2%).

Of note, protein intake was significantly higher among the health promotion arm versus the exercise intervention arm; however, the researchers found no other significant differences between groups at baseline.

Over the 12-month period, women in both groups demonstrated a reduced intake of energy, protein, total fat and carbohydrates. Meanwhile, fiber intake at six months increased slightly in both arms.

The researchers observed no significant differences in changes between both study arms at six and 12 months.

“Targeted interventions specific to diet are needed to promote healthy dietary behavior in female cancer survivors,” Park said.

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