March 9, 2010 in Features

Diet linked to cancer survival

Patients lived longer on diet loaded with fruits, veggies, grains
Jeannine Stein Los Angeles Times
 

LOS ANGELES – Mom’s admonishments to eat your fruits and vegetables should still be heeded, since a new study found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables and healthful grains may be associated with higher ovarian cancer survival rates.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago examined data from a longitudinal study looking at the self-reported, pre-diagnosis diets of women who had epithelial ovarian cancer. With epithelial ovarian cancer, malignant cells are found in the tissue that covers the ovary. The 351 study participants filled out a questionnaire that covered what they ate for three to five years before receiving their diagnosis. They were given a list of foods and food subgroups; grains and meats, for example were divided into more healthful and less healthful categories. Less healthful meats included red meat and cured meats.

Eating more fruits and vegetables and healthful grains was associated with a longer survival time, as was eating just vegetables. The amounts eaten were about the amounts recommended in the National Institutes of Health 5-A-Day program, which suggests eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables every day. When the researchers looked at vegetable subgroups, only cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, and yellow vegetables were linked with a lengthier survival.

Those less healthful meats were associated with a shorter survival time. No correlation with survival time was noted for white meats such as chicken and fish. There was also more risk associated with consumption of milk and milk-based foods.

In the paper, the authors wrote, “Although the study does not directly address how diet might mechanistically influence survival time, it does create an awareness of a potential area for future research toward understanding disparities in the cancer survivorship experience.”

The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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