Patients with nonmetastatic colorectal cancer benefit from more fiber

Here’s some helpful news specialists can pass along: After being diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC), patients can reduce their risk of CRC-specific mortality and overall mortality by adding more fiber to their diet, according to a new observational study published in JAMA Oncology.

“Many cancer survivors are motivated to seek self-care strategies, particularly dietary counseling, to facilitate their treatment and recovery,” wrote Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues. “However, due to lack of data on postdiagnostic diet and CRC survival, most dietary recommendations for CRC survivors are primarily based on incidence studies. Therefore, identifying prognostic dietary factors is needed to improve CRC survivorship.”

The authors studied more than 1,500 patients from two large patient cohorts to conduct their study. All patients were diagnosed with stage I to stage III CRC and had answered questionnaires at specific intervals since the 1980s.

The data showed that cereal fiber was associated with lower CRC-specific mortality and overall mortality. Fiber from vegetables, however, was associated with lower overall mortality, but not lower CRC-specific mortality. No associations were found related to fruit fibers.

The study revealed information about more than just fiber.

“Higher consumption of whole grains was also associated with better survival, and this beneficial association was partly mediated by fiber,” the authors wrote. “Our findings provide novel evidence for the potential benefit of increasing fiber and whole grain consumption among patients with CRC.”