Experts have highlighted the positive impact of adequate diet on health, saying eating a nutritionally balanced high-quality diet may lower a cancer patient’s risk of dying by as much as 65 per cent.
The findings were published in June 12 journal ‘JNCI Cancer Spectrum’, an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal.
The team used the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” as a yardstick for ranking the nutritional quality of the diets used by 1,200 people who had been diagnosed with cancer. The USDA guidelines specify serving recommendations for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, dairy, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
“Total diet was one that appeared to be ‘balanced’ and ‘nutrient-rich’ with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins and dairy,” said Deshmukh.
Deshmukh said the finding that total diet, rather than specific nutritional components, can affect a cancer patient’s prognosis “was particularly surprising to us.”
The team ranked the nutritional quality of the diets used by 1,200 people who had been diagnosed with cancer and almost 34,000 people included in the survey were asked to offer up a 24-hour diet diary.
In turn, all 1,200 patients were then tracked for an average of 17 years, with researchers verifying all subsequent deaths — up to 2011 — through the U.S. National Centre for Health Statistics Linked Mortality Files. By that point, half the cancer patients had died.
Similarly, the researchers noted that the overall strength of the protective benefit of eating well held up even after digging deeper to look at the specific risk of dying from certain types of cancer, including skin cancer and breast cancer.