Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Patterns and the Serum Ascorbate of Patients with Breast Cancer in a Nigerian Teaching Hospital
Ascorbic acid in fruits and vegetables serves as a powerful antioxidant and microbial property which protects cells from cancer causing agents. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women worldwide, and is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. This study evaluated the fruits and vegetables consumption pattern and serum ascorbate level of patients with breast cancer attending the University College Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria. Fruit and vegetable consumption pattern of thirty (30) newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire and their serum ascorbate level was determined using a UV spectrophotometer. Majority (90.0%) of the subjects were above 35 years of age and about a third (36.7%) had neither formal nor primary school education, half (50.0%)of the subjects were not employed and a high percentage (73.4%) had three or more children. None reported to have a family history of breast cancer and none had ever smoked cigarette but 6.7% reported to have taken alcohol before. Majority of the patients did not take fruits and vegetable frequently. Only oranges (73.3%), Tomatoes (100.0%), chilli pepper (100.0%), C. annuum (90.1%) and Ugwu (63.3%) were more regularly taken. Majority (80.0%) of the patients had subnormal while only 20.0% had normal ascorbate levels. This study has shown that breast cancer occurs more in the older adult than in the younger adults among the studied population. Intake of fruits and vegetables among the patients was generally low. The patients also presented low serum ascorbate level. Nutrition education programmes to enlighten the public as well as patients with cancer on the importance of taking fruits and vegetables regularly, as part of their diet, need to be intensified by nutritionist-dietitian.
Keywords: Fruits and vegetable intake, Patients with breast cancer, Serum ascorbate.