High-Fiber Diet Found Beneficial To Cancer Patients

Researchers have found a new potential way to make immune therapies more effective for cancer patients. A new study shows that high-fiber diets offer benefits that could help fight the disease. 

Patients who had a high-fiber diet were found five times likely to reduce the growth or shrink tumors while taking an immune therapy. The researchers unveiled the findings at the recent news conference held by the American Association for Cancer Research, Science News reported late last week.

The study shows that the effects of high-fiber diets changed the microbes in the patients’ guts, which helped boost the effects of cancer therapy. However, the researchers warned that taking probiotic supplements, such as pills or food supplements, could reverse the effects of such diet and reduce the positive effects of cancer therapy. 

The findings come from the analysis of the health benefits of high-fiber diets with 113 melanoma patients who were taking the PD-1 blockade immune therapy. Researchers said 46 patients who consumed high fiber diets, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, had higher bacteria associated with the body’s improved response to the therapy. 

Meanwhile, the patients who ate more processed meat and sugar had growing tumors despite taking the treatment. These patients also appeared with less beneficial bacteria during the study.

The researchers linked the reduced good bacteria to the consumption of probiotics.

“A lot of people have perceptions that probiotics will have health benefits, but that might not be the case for cancer patients,” Christine Spencer, a research scientist at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco, said.

Cynthia Sears, an infectious diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said the study provides new ideas to improve cancer therapies. 

“It’s intriguing and should definitely be followed up,” she said. 

The new study also backs other research suggesting that high-fiber diets could help decrease cancer risk and promote more health improvements. It also supports previous studies indicating that probiotics may not offer the health benefits as previously suggested. 

The researchers plan to present the findings on April 2 in Atlanta during the cancer research association’s annual meeting.