European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 1555–1562 | Cite as

Relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and interference control in breast cancer survivors

  • Krystle E. ZunigaEmail author
  • Michael J. Mackenzie
  • Sarah A. Roberts
  • Lauren B. Raine
  • Charles H. Hillman
  • Arthur F. Kramer
  • Edward McAuley
Original Contribution



Nutrition plays an important role in brain structure and function, and the effects of diet may even be greater in those at greater risk of cognitive decline, such as individuals with cancer-related cognitive impairment. However, the relation of dietary components to cognitive function in cancer survivors is unknown. The objective of this study was to determine whether breast cancer survivors (BCS) evidenced impairments in interference control, a component of cognitive control, compared to age-matched women with no prior history of cancer, and to examine the moderating role of diet on cognitive function.


In this cross-sectional study, a modified flanker task was used to assess interference control in BCS (n = 31) and age-matched women with no prior history of cancer (n = 30). Diet was assessed with 3-day food records. Differences between BCS and age-matched controls were assessed using linear mixed models, and multilevel regression analyses were conducted to assess the moderating role of diet on cognitive performance.


Cognitive performance was not different between groups. Fruit intake and vegetable intake were significantly associated with better performance on the incompatible condition of the flanker task (i.e., shorter reaction time and increased accuracy), independent of disease status. The association between dietary components and cognition was stronger for the incompatible incongruent condition, suggesting that fruit and vegetables may be important for the up-regulation of cognitive control when faced with higher cognitive demands.


There was no difference in performance on an interference control task between BCS and age-matched controls. The data suggest that greater fruit intake and vegetable intake were positively associated with interference control in both BCS and age-matched controls.


Cognition Fruit Vegetable Cancer survivors 



The authors extend appreciation to Ruth Franklin Sosnoff, Ph.D for project coordination, and to Kendrith M. Rowland Jr., MD and his clinical research staff.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Financial support

Lauren B. Raine was supported by the National Institute for Agriculture under the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program grant (2011-67001-30101) to the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Illinois Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krystle E. Zuniga
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael J. Mackenzie
    • 2
  • Sarah A. Roberts
    • 3
  • Lauren B. Raine
    • 3
  • Charles H. Hillman
    • 3
  • Arthur F. Kramer
    • 4
  • Edward McAuley
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Nutrition and Foods ProgramTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral Health and NutritionUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Kinesiology and Community HealthUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  4. 4.Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and TechnologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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