Health Updates

Plant-based Diet Provides Survival Benefits to Colorectal Cancer Survivors, Study Shows

A recent study shows that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables seems to provide survival benefits to long-term colorectal cancer survivors.

Plant-based Diet Provides Survival Benefits to Colorectal Cancer Survivors, Study Shows
Photo: Plant-based Diet | InStyleHealth

What Is A Plant-based Diet?

A plant-based diet or also known as plant-forward eating patterns concentrate on foods that are primarily from plants. This diet includes not only fruits and vegetables, it also includes nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. This does not automatically mean that you are a vegetarian or vegan and would never eat meat or dairy products. Instead, this means you are proportionately selecting more of your foods that are plant sourced.

Is Plant-based Diet Good for You?

Plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are low in saturated fat, containing heart-healthy fats and are a great source of fiber. A diet that is centered on plenty of whole, minimally processed plant-based foods is beneficial for your overall health. Plant based foods contain plenty of antioxidants and phytochemicals which offer protection against diseases.

There are many different ways to eat a plant-based diet that are healthy for our heart. Eating plant-based food doesn’t mean that you need to completely stop eating animal products.

What Are the Risks or Dangers of Plant-based Diets?

There are risks associated with plant-based diets such as risk of inadequate protein, vitamin, and mineral intakes. However, these risks can be easily recovered or overcome by choosing the right plant-based foods and supplements. For instance, soy, quinoa, and nuts are good sources of protein, and tofu, lentils, and spinach are good sources of iron.

Researchers have evaluated diet using food frequency questionnaires at a median of 6 years following diagnosis in 1,404 colorectal cancer survivors with median age of 69 years old, where 56% are men, in a Northern German prospective cohort study.

Experts derived an overall, healthful plant-based and an unhealthful plant-based diet index by scoring intakes of animal foods reversely and intakes of healthy plant-based foods such whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, oils, tea, and less healthy plant foods such as refined grains, fruit juices, sugar-sweetened beverages, potatoes, sweets and desserts, positively or reversely, which is dependent on the index.

The population registries were also utilized to perform a vital status follow-up. Lastly, hazard ratios or HRs for all-cause mortality based on the plant-based diet adherence was projected by using Cox proportional hazards regression model.

There were 204 mortalities were recorded over a median of 7 years after diet evaluation. Overall plant-based diet index inversely associated with all-cause mortality. Higher healthful plant-based diet scores also associated with lower mortality, although it does not appear to be statistically significant.

However, the unhealthful plant-based diet index showed to heighten the risk of mortality. The correlation, however, lost statistical significance after adjustment for confounders. The tendency towards a positive correlation between unhealthful plant-based diet and mortality was limited, in the subgroup analysis, to less physically active individuals.

Researchers stated that, “More research is needed to further disentangle the impacts of different qualities of plant-based diets on cancer survivors’ health.”


Source: Am J Clin Nutr 2021;114:441-449

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