The findings, published online July 1 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, do not prove that steaks and hot dogs themselves affect a person’s chances of surviving colon cancer. But experts said the study supports what is already recommended for colon cancer patients and everyone else: a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in red and processed meats.
“I think this underscores the importance of a lifelong healthy diet,” said lead researcher Marjorie McCullough of the American Cancer Society.
McCullough’s team found that among more than 2,300 colon cancer patients, those with a high intake of red and processed meats both before and after their diagnosis were at greater risk of dying from the disease.
Specifically, patients who ate at least four to five servings per week before and after their diagnosis were 79 percent more likely to die from colon cancer than patients who consistently ate less.
In addition, patients who had the biggest appetite for red and processed meats before their diagnosis faced a heightened risk of dying from any cause, including heart disease or stroke.
However, the findings do not prove that the high meat intake itself is to blame, said Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt of the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston.
“This doesn’t give us enough to make definitive dietary recommendations,” said Meyerhardt, who wrote an editorial published with the study. “It’s suggestive of some role for red and processed meats in the overall health of colon cancer survivors.”
Still, Meyerhardt agreed that the results support having a healthful diet after a colon cancer diagnosis — and ideally, your whole life.
Read More: Healthy Living MSN