‘Food for Thought’—The Relationship between Diet and Cognition in Breast and Colorectal Cancer Survivors: A Feasibility Study

Daniel G. Coro, Amanda D. Hutchinson, Kathryn A. Dyer, Siobhan Banks, Bogda Koczwara, Nadia Corsini, Agnes Vitry, Alison M. Coates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Survivors of cancer frequently experience persistent and troublesome cognitive changes. Little is known about the role diet and nutrition plays in survivors’ cognition. We explored the feasibility of collecting cross-sectional online data from Australian survivors of breast and colorectal cancer to enable preliminary investigations of the relationships between cognition with fruit and vegetable intake, and the Omega-3 Index (a biomarker of long chain omega 3 fatty acid intake). A total of 76 participants completed online (and postal Omega-3 Index biomarker) data collection (62 breast and 14 colorectal cancer survivors): mean age 57.5 (±10.2) years, mean time since diagnosis 32.6 (±15.6) months. Almost all of the feasibility outcomes were met; however, technical difficulties were reported for online cognitive testing. In hierarchical linear regression models, none of the dietary variables of interest were significant predictors of self-reported or objective cognition. Age, BMI, and length of treatment predicted some of the cognitive outcomes. We demonstrated a viable online/postal data collection method, with participants reporting positive levels of engagement and satisfaction. Fruit, vegetable, and omega-3 intake were not significant predictors of cognition in this sample, however the role of BMI in survivors cognitive functioning should be further investigated. Future research could adapt this protocol to longitudinally monitor diet and cognition to assess the impact of diet on subsequent cognitive function, and whether cognitive changes impact dietary habits in survivors of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the University of South Australia RTIS grant, and supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program fee offset scholarship (Ref #:110127613(236862); funding DGC).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cancer survivors
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Diet
  • Feasibility study
  • Nutrition assessment


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