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Western Style Diet Worsens Colon Cancer Outcomes

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A study published in October 2007 issue of JAMA suggests that western style diet significantly affects recurrence and survival rates after stage III colon cancer treatment.

A previous study, which was conducted on women, showed that a western style diet high in fat and low in fibre increases the risk for colon cancer by as much as 46% compared to those, who adhere to a more prudent diet. Prudent diet (high-fibre and healthy protein diet) was associated with reduced risk for colon cancer.

In contrast to previous studies, which examined association between Western diet and colon cancer risk, this study concentrated on connections between Western diet and outcomes among patients with already established colon cancer.

Researchers looked at patients with stage III colon cancer who had undergone curative resection of cancer and were receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. Participants were given questionnaires inquiring about the consumption of 131 foods and dietary supplements. Two major eating patterns were classified: prudent and Western. The prudent diet was rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, poultry, fish and whole grains, whereas Western diet was characterized by higher intake of red and processed meats, sweets and desserts, french fries and refined grains.

The study which included 1009 patients, with the mean follow-up time of 5.3 years, found that Western diet significantly affected colon cancer recurrence and survival rates. Colon cancer patients, who most closely adhered to the Western diet had a 3-fold increase in cancer recurrences and mortality, compared to those patients who least adhered to this diet. On the other hand, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, adherence to prudent diet did not significantly affect these outcomes. Results were unaffected by sex, age, body mass index, physical activity level or the number of lymph nodes positive for cancer.

It would seem that it's more the harm from the Western diet, than the benefit of a prudent diet, that influenced the outcomes. Physicians should therefore suggest a healthy dietary pattern, rather than an increased intake of specific food(s). "What we found was an avoidance of a certain dietary pattern, rather than a recommendation to increase certain foods," Dr. Meyerhardt said.

Source: Diet Appears to Influence Colon Cancer Outcomes (Medscape)

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