According to a new recent report by the University of Illinois, consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and various forms of sugar during the year prior to treatment for head and neck cancer may increase patients' risks of cancer recurrence and mortality.
However, eating moderate amounts of fats and starchy foods such as whole grains, potatoes and legumes after treatment could have protective benefits, reducing patients' risks of disease recurrence and death.
During the study, patients who consumed the most total carbohydrates and sugars - in the forms of sucrose, fructose, lactose and maltose - in the year preceding cancer treatment were at greater risk of mortality from any cause during the follow-up period.
Higher mortality rates were found among people with oral cavity cancer who consumed the greatest amounts of total carbohydrates, total sugars and simple carbohydrates, but the researchers found no such associations among people who had oropharyngeal cancers.
The study is believed to be the first to provide observational data on the therapeutic potential of carbohydrate-restricted, higher fat diets on head and neck squamous-cell cancers. Five-year survival rates among these patients continue to be low, in part because these cancers are often detected in later stages, putting patients at high risk of recurrence.