High Glycemic Load Linked to Worse Colon Cancer Survival

Glycemic load tied to worse survival in obese, overweight; link also seen for carbohydrate intake

THURSDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with advanced colon cancer with high glycemic load and who consume high levels of carbohydrates during and after chemotherapy have worse survival, according to a study published online Nov. 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, M.D., M.P.H., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues examined the association of dietary glycemic load and total carbohydrate intake with recurrence and survival in 1,011 stage III colon cancer patients. Diet was assessed during and six months after participating in an adjuvant chemotherapy trial via a dietary questionnaire.

The researchers found that increased dietary glycemic load was associated with significantly worse disease-free survival (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.79 comparing the highest and lowest quintiles). Increased glycemic load was also associated with significantly worse recurrence-free and overall survival. Worse survival was specific to those who were overweight or obese, with a body mass index of 25 kg/m² or greater (hazard ratio, 2.26). Increased total carbohydrate intake was also associated with significantly worse disease-free, recurrence-free, and overall survival.

"These findings support the role of energy balance factors in colon cancer progression and may offer potential opportunities to improve patient survival," Meyerhardt and colleagues conclude.

The study was partially funded by Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, now Pfizer Oncology.

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