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BMJ. 2007 August 25; 335(7616): 368.
PMCID: PMC1952501
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Diet may matter for prognosis of colon cancer

A diet rich in red and processed meats, fat, sweets, and refined grains (also called the Western dietary pattern) seems to increase the risk of recurrence of disease and death in people with colon cancer. A prospective observational study assessed dietary habits in more than 1000 people with stage III colon cancer who participated in a randomised trial of chemotherapy regimens after complete surgical resection of the primary tumour.

People in the highest fifth of Western dietary pattern were more than three times as likely to have a recurrence or die during a median follow-up of 5.3 years than people in the lowest fifth. The results remained significant after adjusting for sex, age, nodal stage, body mass index, physical activity, baseline performance status, and trial treatment group. However, the prudent dietary pattern wasn't protective: a diet with higher intake of fish and poultry, fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains wasn't associated with a change in any of the outcomes.

Although many people with colon cancer seek information about diet and try complementary nutritional treatments, this seems to be the first study to date to assess the effects of diet on the progress of colon cancer. Because the study was observational, no firm conclusions on causality can be drawn.

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