After cancer, a healthy diet is extremely important. A complete diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and legumes can significantly increase life expectancy, an evaluation of a total of 117 studies and data from over 200,000 people has shown. The participants came mainly from the United States, Europe and Asia and were accompanied for a period of up to 16 years. Under the leadership of the German Institute for Nutritional Research (DIfE), the scientists had examined the effects of individual food groups and certain nutritional patterns on the mortality rate of former cancer patients.
If the test subjects "survived unhealthy" after surviving cancer, the risk of premature death increased by 46 percent. This effect was particularly evident in breast and colon cancer. A so-called Western diet was defined as an »unhealthy« diet, which is characterized by a high proportion of saturated fats, foods containing sugar and salt, white flour products and heavily processed products (e.g. sausages). In contrast, a "healthy" diet like a Mediterranean diet reduced the mortality rate by around 20 percent. This nutritional pattern includes cereals, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and fish and is therefore rich in valuable antioxidants and fiber. Antioxidants protect the body from free oxygen radicals and thus the cells from damage.
Individual food groups also had an impact on the former cancer patients. High alcohol consumption, especially in people who had survived cancer of the liver, esophagus and throat, increased the likelihood of premature death. Former cancer patients got 17 to 31 percent higher risk of cancer again if they drank a lot of alcohol. In contrast, high consumption of vegetables and fish reduced mortality by 14 and 15 percent, respectively.
A healthy lifestyle prolongs life and eating habits seem to have a big impact, the authors write in the journal "Nutrition Reviews". Heike Kreutz, aid