Differences in dietary intake during chemotherapy in breast cancer patients compared to women without cancer

Y. C. de Vries, M. M.G.A. van den Berg, J. H.M. de Vries, S. Boesveldt, J. Th C.M. de Kruif, N. Buist, A. Haringhuizen, M. Los, D. W. Sommeijer, J. H.N. Timmer-Bonte, H. W.M. van Laarhoven, M. Visser, E. Kampman, R. M. Winkels*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PURPOSE: Breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy often experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite that potentially affect dietary habits. This study assessed the intake of energy, macronutrients and food groups before and during chemotherapy in breast cancer patients compared with women without cancer, and determined the association between symptoms and energy and macronutrient intake.

METHODS: This study included 117 newly diagnosed breast cancer patients scheduled for chemotherapy and 88 women without cancer. Habitual intake before chemotherapy was assessed with a food frequency questionnaire. Two 24-h dietary recalls were completed on random days for each participant during the whole chemotherapy treatment for patients and within 6 months after recruitment for women without cancer. Shortly, after the dietary recall, participants filled out questionnaires on symptoms.

RESULTS: Before chemotherapy, habitual energy and macronutrient intake was similar for breast cancer patients and women without cancer. During chemotherapy, breast cancer patients reported a significantly lower total energy, fat, protein and alcohol intake than women without cancer, as shown by a lower intake of pastry and biscuits, cheese, legumes and meat products. A decline in subjective taste perception, appetite and hunger and experiencing a dry mouth, difficulty chewing, lack of energy and nausea were associated with a lower energy intake.

CONCLUSIONS: Symptoms induced by chemotherapy are associated with lower dietary intake and manifested by a lower intake of specific food groups. To ensure an optimal dietary intake during chemotherapy, it is important to monitor nutritional status and symptom burden during chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2581-2591
Number of pages11
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


This study was funded by the Dutch Cancer Society (grant numbers UW2011-4987 and UW2011-5268) and TI Food and Nutrition, a public-private partnership on precompetitive research in food and nutrition. The public partners are responsible for the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish and preparation of the manuscript. The private partners have contributed to the project through regular discussion.

FundersFunder number
Dutch Cancer SocietyUW2011-5268, UW2011-4987
TI Food and Nutrition


    • Breast cancer
    • Chemotherapy
    • Dietary intake
    • Macronutrients
    • Side effect


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