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Pre-Diagnosis Diet Linked to Ovarian Cancer Survival

Food choices in years prior to illness may extend or shorten life, study finds

THURSDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy eating habits lead to longer survival for ovarian cancer patients, U.S. researchers say.

In a study of 351 women with incident epithelial ovarian cancer, the researchers found that higher total fruit and vegetable consumption, higher vegetable consumption alone, and healthy grain consumption were associated with longer survival. High consumption of "less-healthy" meats was associated with shorter survival.

The findings "suggest that food patterns three to five years prior to a diagnosis of epithelial ovarian cancer have the potential to influence survival time," Therese A. Dolecek, research associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues wrote in their report published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

"The pre-diagnosis food patterns observed to afford a survival advantage after an epithelial ovarian cancer diagnosis reflect characteristics commonly found in plant-based or low-fat diets. These diets generally contain high levels of constituents that would be expected to protect against cancer and minimize ingestion of known carcinogens found in foods," the researchers wrote.

"The authors provide new evidence that dietary factors, particularly total fruit and vegetable, red and processed meat, and milk intakes may influence ovarian cancer survival," Cynthia A. Thomson, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and Dr. David S. Alberts, director of the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, wrote in an accompanying editorial. "These findings corroborate earlier work . . . and are among only a select few studies of dietary associations with ovarian cancer recurrence and/or prognosis despite a significant and growing body of literature suggesting diet may influence ovarian cancer risk."

According to background information in a news release about the study from the journal's publisher, 21,550 new diagnoses of ovarian cancer and 14,600 deaths from the disease were estimated to occur in the United States in 2009. Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed in the late stages and the five-year survival rate is about 45 percent.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about ovarian cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, news release, March 1, 2010

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