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High carbohydrate diet linked to increased risk of colon cancer recurrence

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
colon cancer, colorectal cancer, high carbohydrate diet, survival, recurrence

Lifestyle choices have been reported to be a significant factor in the development of colorectal cancer. According to a new study, a high carbohydrate diet increases the risk of colon cancer recurrence. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts and colleagues published their findings online on November 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

The researchers note that they ha have identified a link between higher dietary glycemic load and total carbohydrate intake and increased risk of cancer recurrences or death among stage 3 colon cancer patients. They note that this finding suggests that diet and lifestyle modification can have a role in improving patient survival. The authors point out that lifestyle choices such as obesity and inadequate exercise have been shown to directly influence insulin levels and recent studies have reported a direct link between factors that lead to hyperinsulinemia, cancer recurrence, and mortality in colorectal cancer survivors. However, the influence of glycemic load and other related dietary intakes have on the survival of colon cancer patients is unknown. The researchers designed a study that assessed the effects of glycemic load and total carbohydrate intake on the survival of stage 3 colon cancer patients. They conducted an observational study comprised of 1,011 stage 3 colon cancer patients who reported their dietary intake both during and six months after participating in an adjuvant chemotherapy trial. The researchers assessed the influence of glycemic load, glycemic index, fructose, and carbohydrate intakes on both mortality and cancer recurrence.

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The researchers found that increasing dietary glycemic load and total carbohydrate intake where both linked with increased cancer recurrence; furthermore, death and survival of the patients had a significant correlation with overweight and obese patients. They wrote: “Given that patients who consume high glycemic loads or carbohydrates after cancer diagnosis may have consumed a similar diet before diagnosis, we cannot exclude the possibility that individuals with these dietary exposures acquire tumors that are biologically more aggressive.”

In an accompanying editorial, Neal J. Meropol, M.D. and Nathan A. Berger, M.D. both of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland stated that these new clinical findings are consistent with an observation more than 50 years ago that cancer cells are “avid sugar consumers. They wrote: “Although not definitive regarding the impact on colorectal cancer recurrence, the convergence of clinical observations and biology provides a compelling justification to test-hypothesis-driven interventions in prospective randomized clinical trials.” They added that the study reinforces that, “the epidemiologist is an essential member of the translational science team in oncology.”

Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute

See also:
New study reports once in a lifetime colonoscopy may be enough

See also: Colonoscopy screening has reduced incidence of colorectal cancer