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Effect of chocolate on older patients with cancer in palliative care: a randomised controlled study

Josiane C. Vettori, Luanda G. Da-Silva, Karina Pfrimer, Alceu A. Jordão, Paulo Louzada-Junior, Júlio C. Moriguti, Eduardo Ferriolli,
Published: 4 January 2022

Abstract: Background: Older advanced stage cancer patients, with changes in nutritional status, represent an important demand for palliative care. The aim was to determine the effects of 4 weeks of chocolate consumption on the nutritional status of older cancer patients in palliative care. Methods: Older cancer patients in palliative care with ambulatory (n = 46) monitoring were randomized to control (CG, n = 15), intervention with 55% cocoa chocolate (IG1, n = 16) and intervention with white chocolate (IG2, n = 15) groups and evaluated before and after 4 weeks for nutritional status (primary outcome), evaluated by the Mini Nutritional Assessment tool (MNA). Food consumption, anthropometry, body composition, laboratory parameters and quality of life (QL) with the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer instrument were also evaluated. Results: IG1 progressed with increased screening (estimated difference [95% CI]: − 1.3 [− 2.2;-0.4], p< 0.01), and nutritional (estimated difference [95% CI]: − 1.3 [− 2.5;-0.1], p = 0.04) scores on the MNA, with no change in anthropometry and body composition. Regarding antioxidant capacity, reduced glutathione levels increased (estimated difference [95% CI]: − 0.8 [− 1.6;-0.02], p = 0.04) and malondealdehyde levels decreased in IG2 (estimated difference [95% CI]:+ 4.9 [+ 0.7;+ 9.1], p = 0.02). Regarding QL, functionality improved in IG1, with higher score in the functional domain (estimated difference [95% CI]:-7.0 [− 13.3;-0.7], p = 0.03). Conclusions: The consumption of chocolate with a greater cocoa content may contribute to the improvement of the nutritional status and functionality among older cancer patients in palliative care. The consumption of white chocolate was associated with improved oxidative stress. Trial registration: A randomized clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04367493).
Keywords: Aged / Cancer / Palliative care / Nutritional status / Chocolate

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