Research Shows That Diet Can Lower Risk of Recurrence in Stage III Colon Cancer
Targeted News Service (Press Releases)
New research led by
In a study published in the
"These research results should be empowering to this group of patients," says the study's lead author,
Previous studies have indicated that colon cancer survivors who have a healthy lifestyle - who are physically active, control their weight, and avoid a Western-pattern diet - have a better prognosis than those with less-healthy habits. Scientists have proposed that this benefit is partly due to the lower levels of insulin induced by these healthy behaviors. Morales-Oyarvide and his colleagues sought evidence of such a connection.
The study enrolled 1,023 patients who had undergone surgery for colon cancer and were participating in a clinical trial of follow-up chemotherapy. Halfway through their chemotherapy treatment, and six months after completing therapy, they filled out a questionnaire about their dietary intake, enabling researchers to calculate each patient's dietary insulin load.
Diets high in simple carbohydrates (such as white bread and refined-grain pastas), sugar, and fat - prominent components of Western-pattern diets - tend to produce high insulin levels. Mediterranean-style diets, which are rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and healthy fats and proteins, are associated with lower insulin levels. The advantage of looking at overall dietary insulin load in this study is that it accounts not only for carbohydrate consumption, but fat and protein consumption as well, Morales-Oyarvide states.
The finding that patients with the highest dietary insulin load had twice the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death as those with the lowest load underscores the role patients themselves can play in helping to reduce their risk, says Dana-Farber's,
"Patients are always interested in what they can do to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence," Ng remarks. "We now have dietary advice that, our research shows, may make a difference."