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Biologically based complementary and alternative medicine use among breast cancer survivors: relationship to dietary fat consumption and exercise

Abstract

Previous literature has shown that more than half of all female cancer survivors use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Although the prevalence of CAM use in this population is becoming apparent, few researchers have examined the relationship between CAM use and lifestyle factors that could influence patients’ well-being. The present study examined whether breast cancer survivors who use biologically based CAM are more likely than CAM nonusers to follow a low-fat diet and maintain moderate or vigorous exercise. Sixty-five female breast cancer survivors who were within 3 months of completing primary treatment were recruited. CAM use was measured by self-reported use of one or more of a list of 15 supplements. Dietary fat was measured by a 23-item self-report measure estimating fat consumption in the past month. Dietary fat stage of change and moderate and vigorous exercise stage of change were assessed using measures based on the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change. Results showed that biologically based CAM users maintained a lower percentage of calories from fat in their diet (t=2.12, p<0.05), and there was a trend for CAM users to be more likely than CAM nonusers to be in the action or maintenance stage for dietary fat consumption (p<0.09). However, this study did not find that CAM users were more likely to be in the action or maintenance stage of change for moderate or vigorous exercise. These findings suggest that biologically based CAM use among breast cancer survivors is associated with some, but not all, healthy lifestyle behaviors.

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Acknowledgement

This study was funded by the NCI (CA97639 to Dr. Rabin).

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Correspondence to Mary C. Politi.

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Politi, M.C., Rabin, C. & Pinto, B. Biologically based complementary and alternative medicine use among breast cancer survivors: relationship to dietary fat consumption and exercise. Support Care Cancer 14, 1064–1069 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-006-0039-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-006-0039-4

Keywords

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Breast cancer
  • Health behaviors