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Nutrition, education improve the well-being of cancer survivors

PITTSBURGH--Women who receive an educational or nutritional intervention following the completion of their treatment for breast cancer are less likely to be depressed and have a better quality of life than other breast cancer survivors, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Emory University. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and was published in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Previous research that included educational interventions for breast cancer patients was conducted while women were undergoing treatment. This study, however, involved women whose treatment had ended, when patients were trying to return to their daily routines. The paper also focused on women younger than 50, an age group that is more likely to suffer emotional distress as a result of their illness.

"These are women who had gone through some combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and then were told by their doctors 'OK, your treatment is over, it's time to try to go on with your life.' These women experience anxiety. They wonder about their cancer," said Michael Scheier, head of the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon and the study's lead author.

The researchers followed the experiences of 252 women beginning two months after the completion of their treatment. The women were divided into three groups. One group received no interventions. The second attended four educational sessions that covered topics including talking to children about cancer; maintaining a healthy relationship with their partners; the impact their treatment has on their reproductive health; and the genetics of cancer. The third group received information about maintaining a healthy diet, including shopping and cooking tips.

Based on surveys of the study participants, the women who received either the educational or nutritional intervention were less likely t
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Contact: Jonathan Potts
jpotts@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-6094
Carnegie Mellon University
15-Aug-2005


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