Open Access Open Badges Research

Influence of taste disorders on dietary behaviors in cancer patients under chemotherapy

Karla Sánchez-Lara1*, Ricardo Sosa-Sánchez1, Dan Green-Renner1, Cindy Rodríguez1, Alessandro Laviano3, Daniel Motola-Kuba1 and Oscar Arrieta2

Author affiliations

1 Oncology Center Diana Laura Riojas de Colosio, Médica Sur Clinic and Foundation, Mexico City, Mexico

2 Department of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Institute, Mexico City, Mexico

3 Department of Clinical Medicine, University La Sapienza, Roma, Italia

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:15  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-15

Published: 24 March 2010



To determine the relationship between energy and nutrient consumption with chemosensory changes in cancer patients under chemotherapy.


We carried out a cross-sectional study, enrolling 60 subjects. Cases were defined as patients with cancer diagnosis after their second chemotherapy cycle (n = 30), and controls were subjects without cancer (n = 30). Subjective changes of taste during treatment were assessed. Food consumption habits were obtained with a food frequency questionnaire validated for Mexican population. Five different concentrations of three basic flavors --sweet (sucrose), bitter (urea), and a novel basic taste, umami (sodium glutamate)-- were used to measure detection thresholds and recognition thresholds (RT). We determine differences between energy and nutrient consumption in cases and controls and their association with taste DT and RT.


No demographic differences were found between groups. Cases showed higher sweet DT (6.4 vs. 4.4 μmol/ml; p = 0.03) and a higher bitter RT (100 vs. 95 μmol/ml; p = 0.04) than controls. Cases with sweet DT above the median showed significant lower daily energy (2,043 vs.1,586 kcal; p = 0.02), proteins (81.4 vs. 54 g/day; p = 0.01), carbohydrates (246 vs.192 g/day; p = 0.05), and zinc consumption (19 vs.11 mg/day; p = 0.01) compared to cases without sweet DT alteration. Cases with sweet DT and RT above median were associated with lower completion of energy requirements and consequent weight loss. There was no association between flavors DT or RT and nutrient ingestion in the control group.


Changes of sweet DT and bitter RT in cancer patients under chemotherapy treatment were associated with lower energy and nutrient ingestion. Taste detection and recognition thresholds disorders could be important factors in malnutrition development on patients with cancer under chemotherapy treatment.