Healthy diet is associated with an improved likelihood of bowel cancer survival.

A new study published n the access journal BMC Medicine has specified that a healthy diet, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to an increased risk of cancer survival.The research study examined the life style of 500,000 people and specifically addressed colon cancer in a large scale international study involving 10 countries.

This type of cancer is the most common type of cancer occurring in men, with 55% occurring in North America, and the third most common cancer in women worldwide.”Current advice given to cancer survivors about lifestyle is to follow the same lifestyle recommendations for cancer prevention, said lead researcher, Dora Romaguera from Imperial College London and CIBER-OBN. “Based on results of our own previous work on the EPIC cohort on cancer prevention, we wanted to see if following these recommendations were associated with the survivability of bowel cancer.”

Research participants completed questionnaires about their medical history, diet and lifestyle and Weight and height measurements were also taken and the study period consisted of an average 6.4 years, where 3,292 participants were diagnosed with bowel cancer.

A six-point score was constructed for men based on recommendations in the guidelines about body weight, physical activity, food and drinks that promote weight gain, plant foods (which includes vegetable, fruit, legumes and grains), meat-based food, and alcoholic drinks. Women had seven-point score based on the previous six recommendations and whether or not they had breastfed. Points were allocated based on meeting these recommendations.

The research findings determined that men who had a lifestyle score of 3 or more points were more likely to survive colon/bowel cancer. A score of 4 or above was associated with a decreased mortality rate.

The scientific data analysis revealed that a healthy weight in combination with a high plant food diet had the strongest association with survival. Breast cancer survival rates were affected in a similar manner by the same diet.

“The results of this study demonstrate that a healthy lifestyle in your adult life, in line with recommendations on diet, physical activity and body weight for cancer prevention, do not only prevent developing bowel cancer but, in those who eventually developed it, it improves survival, said Dora Romaguera. “Adherence to these recommendations was measured at the start of the study, before cancer diagnosis, and represent long-term lifestyle habits.”


Dora Romaguera, Heather Ward, Petra A Wark, Anne-Claire Vergnaud, Petra H Peeters, Carla H van Gils, Pietro Ferrari, Veronika Fedirko, Mazda Jenab, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Laure Dossus, Laureen Dartois, Camilla Plambeck Hansen, Christina Catherine Dahm, Genevieve Buckland, María José Sánchez, Miren Dorronsoro, Carmen Navarro, Aurelio Barricarte, Timothy J Key, Antonia Trichopoulou, Christos Tsironis, Pagona Lagiou, Giovanna Masala, Valeria Pala, Rosario Tumino, Paolo Vineis, Salvatore Panico, H Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, Peter D Siersema, Bodil Ohlsson, Karin Jirström, Maria Wennberg, Lena M Nilsson, Elisabete Weiderpass, Tilman Kühn, Verena Katzke, Kay-Tee Khaw, Nick J Wareham, Anne Tjønneland, Heiner Boeing, José R Quirós, Marc J Gunter, Elio Riboli, Teresa Norat. Pre-diagnostic concordance with the WCRF/AICR guidelines and survival in European colorectal cancer patients: a cohort study. BMC Medicine, 2015; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12916-015-0332-5

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