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The study included more than 2,800 colon cancer patients. Those whose eating habits before their cancer diagnosis most closely matched American Cancer Society dietary guidelines had a 22 percent lower risk of death during the study period than those with unhealthy diets before diagnosis.
Meanwhile, those with the unhealthiest eating habits before diagnosis were 30 percent more likely to die of colon cancer than those with the healthiest diets, the findings showed.
Even after colon cancer diagnosis, people with the healthiest eating habits had a 65 percent lower risk of death from colon cancer, and a 38 percent lower risk of death from all causes, than those with the unhealthiest diets, the researchers found.
The findings suggest that diet is an important factor in improving outcomes for colon cancer patients, according to the study published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"This study is this first to our knowledge that considered change in diet quality across the [colon cancer] continuum," said study leader Mark Guinter, an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow.
"These results suggest that high diet quality after diagnosis, even if poor before, may be associated with a lower risk of death" among colon cancer patients, he added in a cancer society news release.
However, the study could not prove that eating a better diet was the reason for increased survival among these patients.
There are more than 1.4 million colon cancer survivors in the United States.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Oct. 19, 2018