A Study of Dietary Prudence

CURE, Spring 2008, Volume 7, Issue 1

While numerous studies have examined diet for the prevention of colon cancer, one study ?indicates following a Western dietary pattern may be associated with a higher risk of recurrence and mortality among colon cancer patients.

While numerous studies have examined diet for the prevention of colon cancer, a study published last August in The Journal of the American Medical Association ?indicates that a greater intake following a Western dietary pattern may be associated with a higher risk of recurrence and mortality among patients with stage 3 colon cancer who have been treated with surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy.

The study enrolled 1,009 patients with stage 3 colon cancer who reported on dietary intake during chemotherapy and a six-month period after. The patients came from both community and academic centers across the country.

The study team, led by Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, identified two dietary patterns. A “prudent” pattern was characterized by intake of fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish. A “Western” diet was characterized by intake of meat, fat, refined grains and desserts.

Patients were placed on one of the diets, and then further categorized as to how Western or how prudent their diet was based on a food questionnaire that included 131 food items and supplements. Items were then categorized into 39 food groups.

During a median follow-up of 5.3 years, 324 patients had their cancer recur, 223 died with cancer recurrence, and 28 died without documented recurrence.

A higher intake of Western dietary pattern after cancer diagnosis was associated with a significantly worse rate of disease-free survival, the study found. Patients whose diets rated highest on the Western dietary pattern were 2.9 times more likely to experience recurrence than those whose diets measured lower.

In contrast to the Western dietary pattern, the prudent dietary pattern was not significantly related to patient outcome, and no relationship was seen with recurrence-free survival or overall survival across levels of prudent dietary intake.

Epidemiological and scientific research indicates that dietary factors are associated with the risk of developing colon cancer. Consumption of red meat and alcohol, calcium and vitamin D, vitamin E and folic acid are among the components that studies show appear to influence the risk of developing colon cancer.