Knowledge of Antioxidants and Breast Cancer Risk Among Women Attending Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Clinics

Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Health Promotion Practice (Impact Factor: 0.55). 12/2010; 13(1):98-105. DOI: 10.1177/1524839910370426
Source: PubMed


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.

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Available from: Judy Paisley, Feb 21, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, antioxidants have taken centre stage in media and advertising messages. While 80% of Canadians think they are well-informed about nutrition, many are confused about the health effects of specific nutrients. Forty-six percent of Canadians seek information from newspapers and books, and 67% of women rely on magazines. We examined the content and accuracy of antioxidant health messages in Canadian women's magazines. The top three Canadian magazines targeted at women readers were selected. A screening tool was developed, pilot tested, and used to identify eligible articles. A coding scheme was created to define variables, which were coded and analyzed. Seventy-seven percent of 36 magazine issues contained articles that mentioned antioxidants (n=56). Seventy-one percent (n=40) of articles reported positive health effects related to antioxidant consumption, and 36% and 40% of those articles framed those effects as definite and potential, respectively (p<0.01). The articles sampled conveyed messages about positive antioxidant health effects that are not supported by current evidence. Improved standards of health reporting are needed. Nutrition professionals may need to address this inaccuracy when they develop communications on antioxidants and health risk.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research