Eating a healthy diet after a head and neck cancer diagnosis

Champaign, Illinois — Researchers have found that patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head or neck were 93% less likely to die from any cause within the first three years after diagnosis if they followed a healthy diet rich in nutrients that was found to prevent chronic disease. A recent study.

The eating habits of patients with the best survival rates are consistent with the Alternative Healthy Eating Index -2010, a measure of diet quality that ranks foods based on their disease-fighting properties. First author Christian A. Maino Vitesse, a pre-doctoral fellow in nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says the plan is linked to a lower risk of chronic disease.

He and colleagues tracked the outcomes of 468 patients who were part of the University of Michigan’s Head and Neck Cancer Research Excellence Program, also known as SPORE. The program is a prospective cohort-survival study that collects comprehensive data on patients’ diet and various lifestyle factors three times a year, from diagnosis to treatment.

“We studied six different indicators of diet quality and compared patient outcomes,” Vitesse said. “The aim was to assess adherence to different eating patterns and to explore how diet relates to cancer- and all-cause mortality.”

In addition to AHEI-2010, researchers compared patients’ eating habits to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or the DASH diet. alternative mediterranean diet, also called aMED; and three types of low-carb diets, including a general low-carb diet as well as plans based on the consumption of animal and plant proteins.

Developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School TH Chan as an alternative to Federal Dietary Guidelines, AHEI-2010 ranks an individual’s diet quality from 0-110 based on how frequently they eat 11 categories of healthy and unhealthy foods.

Higher scores reflect healthy eating habits, such as eating five or more servings of each of fruits and vegetables per day and avoiding trans fats and sugary drinks, according to the program’s website.

The DASH diet is a plan low in sodium and saturated fat and has been found to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the American Heart Association website.

The aMED index assigns scores from 0 to 940 across nine food categories to assess compliance with a traditional Mediterranean diet, with higher scores indicating higher intakes of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, fish and monounsaturated fats, according to the study.

For the general low-carb plan, the researchers used an index that scored patients’ diets from 0 to 30, with higher scores reflecting lower carbohydrate consumption and greater amounts of fat and protein. For the animal and vegetable versions, the percentages of fats and proteins obtained from animal or vegetable sources were used in the scoring.

During the studied period, 93 patient deaths from all causes were reported, including 74 cancer-related deaths.

“When we tested all of these indicators, we found that only one of them – AHEI-2010 – had a very strong association with the outcome of all-cause mortality,” Vitesse said.

He said that every 11-point increase in adherence to AHEI-2010 was associated with a 60% reduction in the risk of patients dying.

Two low-carbohydrate diets showed modest effects on patient mortality. They found that higher scores on the general and low-carbohydrate vegetarian indices were associated with a 59% and 71% decrease, respectively, in all-cause mortality. However, these results failed to meet the statistical significance threshold.

Accordingly, the researchers found that the DASH and aMED regimens and animal-based, low-carbohydrate diets had no significant effect on mortality rates.

We think AHEI-2010 is more accurate for calculating all of these nutritional quality indicators,” Vitesse said. “It is based on a number of different nutritional components and has a very accurate scale compared to some of the other indicators.

“We have shown through the work that we do in our lab that nutrition is intricately linked to many outcomes in head and neck cancers, not only mortality but also the symptoms that patients will present,” he said. “This is further evidence that we need to scrutinize nutrition while patients are undergoing treatment and throughout the course of the disease.”

The findings build on previous work with Spur patients by corresponding author Anna E. Arthur, then a professor of food science and human nutrition at USU, which suggested that a diet rich in antioxidants and other micronutrients may significantly improve recurrence. and to survive. Modifies and alleviates nutritional problems that often occur during treatment of these patients.

“Our team’s research is important because very little is currently known about how to improve treatment response and disease outcomes for patients with head and neck cancer through nutrition,” said Arthur, MD, professor of dietetics and nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“Given the severe symptoms and side effects experienced by patients with head and neck cancer that affect eating and nutrition, our work is necessary to develop future nutritional intervention studies as well as medical nutritional therapy guidelines for this group of patients.”

The study was co-authored by U.S. University professors. and Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, the center’s education program leader and Sylvia de Straub researcher for Nutrition and Cancer.

The study was also co-authored by University of Michigan faculty Drs. Gregory T. Wolff, Laura S. Rosick, Alison M. Mondol and University of Michigan alumnus Katie R. Zarins.

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