The typical Western diet increases the risk of tumor recurrence for patients with colon cancer.
Patients who ate the most red and processed meats, refined grains, fats, and sugars were about three times as likely to die or have their cancers recur as patients who ate these foods the least. While there is no shortage of evidence linking the so-called Western diet to an increased risk for developing colon cancer, the study by the group at Harvard is among the first to examine the impact of such a diet on survival among patients treated for the disease.
We should not ignore these data and make sure that our patients are aware how important diet is to reduce the risk of tumor recurrence. From my own experience, patients always ask what they can do to decrease their risk. They want to know what they should be eating and whether they should be exercising.
The “Western” diet is characterized by high intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, refined grains, and desserts. Diet defined by the researchers as “prudent” was high in fruits, vegetables, poultry, and fish. 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.
In our clinic we suggest that a diet characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets and desserts, french fries, and refined grains should be avoided since it can increase the risk of cancer recurrence and decreases survival.
There are now many more good reasons for eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limiting red and processed meats, refined grains, fats, and sugars.