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Link Between Diet and Fatigue

Posted 7/23/2014

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  This study mostly falls into the category of "what your mother always told you" and "yes, that's common sense." However, a real attempt to look at the association between post treatment diet and fatigue, with and without the consideration of the impact of regular exercise, is valuable. You are what you eat, as they always saw, and the right foods do help us feel better.

  It is really important not to fall into the trap of too much worry re diet. No, you don't have to only eat organic or eliminate things you love. Yes, it is smart to limit red meat and processed food (and, on that score, I just finished reading Pandora's Lunchbox by Melanie Warner. If you read it, you will never even want to eat cereal again) and to concentrate on protein and whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables. It is encouraging to think that eating right, especially when paired with regular exercise, will help us recover more quickly and feel better.

  From the Journal of Cancer Survivorship comes this study. I give you the abstract. If you want the whole article, email me, and I will send it on..

Better postdiagnosis diet quality is associated with less

cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer survivors




Stephanie M. George & Catherine M. Alfano & Marian L. Neuhouser & Ashley W. Smith & Richard N. Baumgartner & Kathy B. Baumgartner & Leslie Bernstein & Rachel Ballard-Barbash










A comprehensive understanding of the role of modifiable


health behaviors in effective management of cancerrelated

fatigue is needed. Among breast cancer survivors, we

examined how postdiagnosis diet quality, independently and

jointly with physical activity, is related to fatigue, and the

potential mediating role of inflammation.









Seven hundred seventy women diagnosed with


stage 0



IIIA breast cancer in the Health, Eating, Activity,


and Lifestyle study completed food frequency and physical

activity questionnaires 30 months postdiagnosis. We scored

diet quality using the Healthy Eating Index 2010 (HEI-2010).

Serum concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured

in fasting 30-ml blood samples. Multidimensional fatigue

was measured 41 months postdiagnosis using the 22-

item revised Piper Fatigue Scale. In multivariate linear

models, we determined whether fatigue was associated HEI-





2010 quartiles (Q1



Q4), and a variable jointly reflecting HEI


quartiles and physical activity levels.









Survivors with better-quality diets (Q4 vs. Q1) had


lower total fatigue (4.1 vs. 4.8,



p-contrast=0.003) and subscale


scores (behavioral severity 3.4 vs. 4.2,





0.003; affective meaning 3.9 vs. 4.8,



p-contrast=0.007; sensory


4.4 vs. 5.2,



p-contrast=0.003; cognitive 4.6 vs. 5.0, pcontrast=


0.046). Least squares estimates of fatigue were similar

in models including CRP. Compared to survivors with

poor-quality diets and no physical activity, survivors with

better-quality diets and meeting physical activity recommendations

had significantly lower behavioral severity (3.2 vs.




p-contrast=0.002) and sensory (3.8 vs. 4.8. p-contrast=


0.006) fatigue scores.




Conclusion In this large breast cancer survivor cohort,


postdiagnosis diet quality was inversely and independently

associated with fatigue.




Implications for Cancer Survivors Future interventions designed


to improve multiple energy balance behaviors can

provide insight into their associations with fatigue.



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