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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

The effects of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as supplementation on quality of life (QOL) among breast cancer patients

Kim Sooi Law1*, Nizuwan Azman1, Eshaifol Azam Omar1, Muhammad Yusri Musa1, Narazah Mohd Yusoff1, Siti Amrah Sulaiman2 and Nik Hazlina Nik Hussain2

Author Affiliations

1 Institut Perubatan dan Pergigian Termaju, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Bertam, 13200 Kepala Batas, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

2 School of Medical Science, Health Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan, Malaysia

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:139  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-139

Published: 27 August 2014

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst Malaysian women. Both the disease and its treatment can disrupt the lives of the woman and adversely affect all aspects of life and thus can alter a woman’s quality of life. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of virgin coconut oil (VCO) on the quality of life (QOL) of patients diagnosed with breast cancer.

Methods

This was a prospective study of breast cancer patients admitted into the Oncology Unit of Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia. The sample consisted of 60 patients with stage III and IV breast cancer allocated to either an intervention group (n = 30) or a control group (n = 30) using a simple random table. QOL was evaluated from the first cycle of chemotherapy to the sixth cycle, and data were collected using a validated Bahasa Malaysia version of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Breast Cancer Module (EORTC QLQ-C30) and its breast-specific module (QLQ-BR 23).

Results

The mean age of breast cancer patients was 50.2 (SD = 13.5) years. There were significant mean score differences for functioning and global QOL between groups (α < 0.01). The intervention group also had better scores for symptoms including fatigue, dyspnea, sleep difficulties, and loss of appetite compared to the control group. Although there are deteriorations for sexual enjoyment, the intervention group exhibited improvement in breast functioning and symptom scores for body image, sexual function, future perspective, breast symptoms, and systemic therapy side effects.

Conclusion

VCO consumption during chemotherapy helped improve the functional status and global QOL of breast cancer patients. In addition, it reduced the symptoms related to side effects of chemotherapy.

Keywords:
Virgin coconut oil (VCO); Quality of life (QOL); Breast cancer patient; Chemotherapy