The purposes of this study were 1) to investigate eating behaviors and patterns in breast cancer patients using a newly developed food frequency questionnaire and 2) to examine perception and use of nutritional information about breast cancer treatment among cancer patients treated with radiation therapy. Sixty breast cancer patients (case group) undergoing radiation therapy in Ajou University Hospital, Suwon, South Korea and 79 healthy women (control group) participated in this study. Mean age of subjects in the control group was 46.00 ± 7.88 years and BMI was 23.12 ± 2.85 kg/m2, and that of the case group was 50.06 ± 11.64 years and 22.32 ± 3.24 kg/m2. The results of eating behaviors showed several significant differences between control and case groups. Breast cancer patients ate meals on a more regular basis, on time, and more frequently compared to control subjects. In addition, they preferred more salty or spicy and bland food compared to healthy women. According to answers from the food frequency questionnaire, breast cancer patients consumed significantly lower amounts of boiled white rice, meats and processed food, fish and shellfish, coffee, milk, and cheese, whereas they consumed a significantly large amount of boiled multigrain rice, vegetable, seaweeds, soybean and processed food, and yoghurt compared to healthy women. This study also observed the way in which cancer patients and healthy control subjects obtain information about breast cancer treatment and its reliabilities. Results showed that healthy women did not hesitate to obtain information from mass media, while breast cancer patients would obtain nutritional information from specialists rather than mass media. Results of this survey confirmed that breast cancer patients avoided intake of red meat protein, even though they already recognized the importance of dietary protein intake for recuperation and treatment of the disease. These results could be used for future diet and nutrition guidelines for breast cancer patients.
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