Knowledge of antioxidants and breast cancer risk among women attending breast cancer risk assessment clinics.
ABSTRACT This qualitative study used semistructured interviews to examine the accuracy of knowledge concerning antioxidants and health among a convenience sample of 79 women attending a breast cancer risk assessment clinic. Despite a high level of familiarity (98%) with the word antioxidant, few participants could name more than one of these compounds and most relied on print media (41.6%) and radio/TV (22.2%) for antioxidant information. Thematic content analysis revealed participants' beliefs that antioxidants were strongly linked to reduced breast cancer risk and improved health. They described antioxidant functions that take place before (e.g., "Prevention . . . a best defense mechanism" and "To boost strength and good health") or after (e.g., "Fights diseases, free radicals, and cancer," "Acts as a cleanser or purifier," and "Undoes the harm that I am consciously or unconsciously doing to my body") a health threat. Participants' understandings of the links between antioxidant intake and breast cancer risk did not accurately reflect the scientific evidence. This large priority population group needs tailored, evidence-based nutrition communications to address inaccurate understandings about antioxidant intake and breast cancer risk.