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Against Breast Cancer


We are delighted to announce that DietCompLyf – our Diet & Lifestyle study into the role of diet, complementary treatments and lifestyle in breast cancer survival has reached a major milestone.

Since we began in 1997, our scientists at The Against Breast Cancer Research Unit, University of Westminster in London have recruited nearly 3400 breast cancer patients and opened 56 recruitment centres in NHS hospitals throughout the UK.

This is very exciting news. It means that this year we can begin to publish a series of papers about the full DietCompLyf cohort. Based on the information we have collected so far we are now able to report on the demographics of the participants. We have recruited women from a wide variety of backgrounds;


  • Over 80% of our participants came from England (which reflects the relative incidence of breast cancer in the UK) 4% are from Scotland, 6% from Wales and 1.5% are from Northern Ireland.
  • The participants were aged 25 to 75 at diagnosis, the average age being 54, two thirds of the women were aged over 50.
  • Participants came from white, African/Afro, Caribbean, Asian, Chinese and other ethnic communities. Nearly three quarters were married or living in a partnership.
  • The occupations of the participants included 150 teachers, nearly 200 nurses, over 200 managers, 300 or more housewives; several doctors and publicans.
  • We know that three quarters of the women drink alcohol, but only 10% smoke.

All this information will be invaluable in carrying out our analysis into the effects of diet and lifestyle on surviving breast cancer.

Over a period of 5 years these women have committed to help us by undergoing the following;


Blood & Urine – Samples are taken once every year for 5 years.
(Blood and urine samples are analysed for a number of markers such as:
Phytoestrogens and Phytochemicals)

Lifestyle assessment – using a fully validated questionnaire which asks a variety of questions about all aspects of life which allows us to construct a complete lifestyle profile of each patient at recruitment.

The lifestyle follow-up questionnaire will identify any changes in the lifestyle and general health of the individual over the following years.

General health questionnaire – This questionnaire asks about how anxious (or not) the individual is feeling allowing us to assess levels of anxiety and certain elements of stress.

Food frequency questionnaire – This allows documentation of the frequency of intake of foods over 1 year. It allows us to calculate average intake of food groups and to identify any changes in the nutrition of the individual over a period of time.

7-day food diary – Enabling us to calculate exact dietary intake over 1 week as participants are asked to list all food items consumed and briefly describe the preparation of their meals.


The DietcompLyf study has been fully funded by supporters of Against Breast Cancer, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed so far.

The Diet and Lifestyle study represents just one branch of our research at the Against Breast Cancer Research Unit based at the University of Westminster. We urgently need your support us to help ensure that, we continue our research to improve detection and increase survival after diagnosis, and ultimately find a vaccine against breast cancer.

To ensure this vital work proceeds please consider supporting our research.

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