Link between diet and chemotherapy related gastrointestinal side effects

Contemp Oncol (Pozn). 2017;21(2):162-167. doi: 10.5114/wo.2017.66896. Epub 2017 Jun 30.


Aim of the study: To evaluate an association between food products consumption, dietary intake and the incidence of selected gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation) in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Material and methods: Fifty six women receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer were eligible for the study. Anthropometrical measurements were assessed. The dietary intake was evaluated by 24-hours food records. The association between the consumption of selected food products and gastrointestinal symptoms incidences was assessed by modified semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire including 77-different food items that was developed and applied in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Results: BMI values indicated 9%, 45%, 30% and 16% of patients as underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese respectively. Only 23% and 32% of patients never experienced nausea and constipation when 43% and 45% never experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Nausea was promoted by oils, constipation by chocolate and chocolate products and diarrhea by dairy products, stone fruit and apple. Significant inverse correlations were found between vomiting and the intake of energy, fat, protein, carbohydrates, B groups vitamins, vitamin D, phosphorus and zinc. The difference in energy intake between marginal values of vomiting incidence exceeded 400 kcal.

Conclusions: Dietary intake as well as specific food products influence on gastrointestinal side effect of chemotherapy in cancer patients. The dietary approach based on either exclusion or limited intake of selected food products and improvement of diet could reduce and prevent chemotherapy induced gastrointestinal symptoms therefore should be taken under consideration in clinical practice.

Keywords: Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV); cancer; chemotherapy; constipation; diarrhea; diet.