Diet tied to survival in breast cancer patients | Health | Reuters
Diet tied to survival in breast cancer patients
Mon Jan 5, 2009 10:08pm IST
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By Amy Norton
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with early-stage breast cancer may
live longer if they maintain a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole
grains and low-fat dairy, a new study suggests.
This so-called "prudent" diet was not linked to a lower risk of death
from breast cancer specifically. However, researchers found, breast
cancer patients who ate this way were less likely to die from other
causes over the eight-year study period.
"Consumption of a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and
poultry, and low in red meat and refined foods may positively influence
a woman's overall health and prevent other cancers and chronic
diseases," Dr. Marilyn L. Kwan, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente in
Oakland, California, told Reuters Health.
The results are also consistent with past studies suggesting that diet
may be a more important factor in general health and diseases other than
breast cancer than it is in breast cancer survival specifically,
according to Kwan and her colleagues.
The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, are based
on 1,901 women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Between 2000
and 2002, the women completed detailed questionnaires on their diet,
exercise habits, weight and other health factors. They were then
followed for up to eight years.
During that time, 226 women died, with 128 deaths attributed to breast
Kwan's team found that women who'd reported a prudent dietary pattern at
the outset had a lower overall death rate than those who'd reported a
more "Western"-style diet -- one high in red and processed meats, snack
foods, high-fat dairy and refined grains like white bread.
Women with the highest intakes of healthier foods were about half as
likely to die during the study period as women with the lowest intakes,
even with other important factors taken into account -- like the initial
size of the breast tumor, the treatment type and patients' smoking habits.
Conversely, women with the most Western eating habits had a 53 percent
higher risk of death overall than those with the lowest intakes of those
Neither dietary pattern, however, was related to the odds of breast
cancer recurrence or to women's risk of dying from the disease. Still,
the link between diet and overall survival means that eating healthy is
"very much an important factor for breast cancer survivors," Kwan said.
"Women living with breast cancer still want to know how they can improve
their overall chances of surviving," she noted, "and as our study shows,
eating a more healthful diet is beneficial for overall survival."
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, online December 29, 2008.
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