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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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‘Western’ Diet Tied to Colon Cancer

Higher Death Risk and Recurrence Link Must Be Confirmed, Researchers Say

Diet and Death From Colon Cancer continued...

Colon cancer recurrences or death were nearly 3.5 times more common among patients who most closely followed a Western diet than among patients who followed it the least.

When they looked at the prudent dietary pattern, no relationship was found between the prudent diet and colon cancer recurrence or death.

“Because this was an observational study, causality cannot and should not be drawn from these data,” Meyerhardt and colleagues wrote. “Nonetheless, [they] suggest that a diet characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, and desserts, french fries, and refined grains increases the risk of cancer recurrence and decreases survival.”

More Study Needed

In addition to confirming the findings, further research is needed to understand exactly what components of the two diets are harmful and beneficial to colon cancer patients and former patients, Meyerhardt says.

In an interview with WebMD, American Cancer Society spokesman Michael Thun, MD, called the study provocative. But he agreed that they must be confirmed.

“We test many, many different drug combinations to treat cancer, but researchers are only now beginning to concentrate on diet and other lifestyle changes that can potentially affect the prognosis and survival of cancer patients,” he says.

Thun points out there are many good reasons for eating a diet rich in fruits vegetables and whole grains and limiting red and processed meats, refined grains, fats, and sugars.

“We can’t say with certainty that improving [colon cancer] survival is one of them, but it is worth finding out,” he says.

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