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Pre-Diagnosis Diet May Affect Ovarian Cancer Survival Odds

Study suggests women who have a diet high in fruits and vegetables have a better prognosis

THURSDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Women treated for ovarian cancer may have better odds of survival if their pre-diagnosis diet reflects dietary recommendations for optimal nutrition and cancer prevention, according to a study in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Therese A. Dolecek, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Illinois in Chicago conducted a study of 341 women diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer whose diet was assessed using a food-frequency questionnaire.

When the researchers looked at food intake they found that pre-diagnosis eating patterns were significantly associated with survival time. For example, high intake of fruit and vegetables was associated with longer survival (hazard ratio, 0.61), while meat -- in particular red and cured/processed meat -- intake was associated with lower survival odds (hazard ratio, 2.28), as was milk consumption (hazard ratio, 2.15). Dietary patterns that reflect recommendations for good nutrition and cancer prevention may have benefits for ovarian cancer patients, the researchers found.

"Despite acknowledged study limitations, associations among pre-diagnosis food patterns and epithelial ovarian cancer survival emerged in this study with rigorous statistical control for important confounding factors," the authors write. "Although the study does not directly address how diet might mechanistically influence survival time, it does create an awareness of a potential area for future research toward understanding disparities in the cancer survivorship experience."

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