Dietary interventions can improve the quality of life and lower the risk of depression in bowel cancer survivors, according to research funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Birmingham, found people who ate less red and processed meat and refined grains after their cancer treatment had a better quality of life after 12 months than those who did not receive the intervention and instead had “usual care”.
They also had significantly lower levels of depression.
“Usual care” consisted of receiving five leaflets on healthy lifestyles in the post over 12 months.
The intervention included a mix of face-to-face meetings, motivational phone calls, newsletters, group meetings and information leaflets specific to how motivated each person was to change their behaviour.
Dr Anna Diaz Font, head of research funding at WCRF, said as more and more people are surviving cancer thanks to improved treatments and earlier diagnosis, it becomes increasingly important to find ways to help people live well after a cancer diagnosis.
“This research may be small, but it’s a great place to start and shows that we need to provide more support for people even after their cancer treatment has ended. We know that diet is linked to cancer risk, but it’s encouraging that it may also help people have a better quality of life after cancer,” she stated.