Study explores carbohydrates' impact on head, neck cancers
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IMAGE: University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor Anna E. Arthur found in a new study that a carbohydrate-restricted, higher fat diet may reduce cancer recurrence and mortality rates… view more 

Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and various forms of sugar during the year prior to treatment for head and neck cancer may increase patients’ risks of cancer recurrence and mortality, a new study reports.

However, eating moderate amounts of fats and starchy foods such as whole grains, potatoes and legumes after treatment could have protective benefits, reducing patients’ risks of disease recurrence and death, said lead author Anna E. Arthur, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois.

In the study, researchers tracked the pre- and post-treatment diets and health outcomes of more than 400 cancer patients. Participants were followed for an average of 26 months after they were first diagnosed and treated for squamous-cell carcinoma of the head or neck; all were patients of the University of Michigan Head and Neck Specialized Program of Research Excellence. The study was published recently in the International Journal of Cancer.

Participants’ typical intake of

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