Numerous studies have examined how various dietary patterns influence breast cancer risk. Generally speaking, diets high in fruit and vegetables and low in refined carbohydrates and saturated fat are associated with reduced risk. Levels of certain micronutrients such as beta-carotene and vitamin D are also associated with lowered risk. Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been linked to increased breast cancer risk. However excessively high levels of some micronutrients (obtained through supplements) also have the potential to increase risk.

While the links between diet and breast cancer risk have been examined in hundreds of studies, far fewer have examined the impact of diet on survival after treatment for breast cancer. Now a new meta-analysis of previous studies has reported that high-quality diets and healthy dietary patterns are associated with reduced mortality among cancer survivors, whereas alcohol consumption and Western dietary patterns are associated with increased mortality.

Latest research links high quality diets to improved cancer survival

The meta-analysis referenced at the beginning of this news story was designed to investigate the associations between diet and mortality among cancer survivors. To conduct the study, the authors analyzed data from 117 relevant studies in the PubMed and Embase databases. The studies included a total of 209,597 initially nonmetastatic cancer patients. The analysis took into account region, outcomes, population characteristics, method of dietary assessment, risk estimates, and other factors.

Higher intakes of vegetables and fish were found to be associated with reduced overall mortality, whereas higher alcohol consumption was found to be associated with increased mortality. Patients who adhered to the highest category of diet quality or a prudent/healthy dietary pattern had approximately 20% lower likelihood of death than those with poor quality or unhealthy diets

The Western dietary pattern was found to be associated with particularly poor outcomes. This pattern carried approximately one and one-half times the risk of overall mortality as a high quality diet or prudent/healthy dietary pattern. The authors conclude that adherence to a high-quality diet or a prudent/healthy dietary pattern is associated with reduced overall mortality among cancer survivors. On the other hand, a Western dietary pattern is associated with increased mortality.