Balanced diet may significantly decrease risk of cancer death, study finds
Cancer patients who eat a healthy balanced diet are more likely to survive the disease compared to those who consume less nutritious food, a recent study has found.
The research, based on data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), showed that a balanced diet can reduce the risk of dying from cancer by as much as 65 percent.
Ashish Deshmukh, the lead author of the study, said that he and other researchers were surprised by the findings, which showed that a 'total diet' can have an impact on a patient's cancer prognosis.
Following a total diet involves eating nutrient-rich food, including a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins and dairy, Deshmukh explained.
To find out how diets can affect cancer, the researchers analyzed data collected from 34,000 study participants by the NHANES III between 1988 and 1994.
The study authors looked at the diets of 1,200 cancer patients and ranked the nutritional quality of their diets based on the US Department of Agriculture's 'Dietary Guidelines for Americans.'
The research team tracked the patients over a period of 17 years and verified all the deaths through the US National Center for Health Statistics Linked Mortality Files.
Half of the patients had died by 2011, but the researchers found that those who consumed a balanced diet had a 65 percent lower chance of dying from the disease or any other cause.
The study did not determine how long the patients survived, and did not account for factors like exercise or other types of healthy behaviors, according to Deshmukh.
The beneficial impact of eating a nutritious diet was also found when the researchers looked at the risk of dying from specific types of cancer, such as skin cancer and breast cancer.
'It is most critical that cancer survivors and their health care providers start talking about [a] balanced diet,' said Deshmukh, who serves as an assistant professor with the University of Florida's College of Public Health and Health Professions, as reported by Medical Xpress.
'It is also crucial that cancer survivors work with their dietitians to identify a balanced diet regimen, and then follow that regimen. There are no harms [from] healthful eating,' he added.
Dr Kalyani Sonawane, the senior author of the study and assistant professor of Health Services Research at the University of Florida, said that the findings could pave the way for more research on the subject.
'We found that there were not many [studies] looking at total diet approach for cancer survivors. We definitely need more evidence and more studies like this,' Sonawane said, as reported by Daily Mail.