Colon Cancer
A high-carb diet may increase odds that colon cancer will return

THE QUESTION For people who have had colon cancer, might carbohydrate consumption affect whether the cancer comes back?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 1,011 adults, most in their early 60s, who had surgery and chemotherapy for Stage III colon cancer, in which the cancer had spread to lymph nodes in the immediate area but had not metastasized to distant parts of the body. In about a seven-year span, the cancer recurred in 343 people; 262 of them died, as did 43 others who had no recurrence of cancer. People who consumed the most carbohydrate-rich foods were 80 percent more likely to have had a recurrence of colon cancer or to have died than were those who consumed the least of such foods. Among people who were overweight or obese, high carbohydrate consumption more than doubled the risk for a cancer recurrence or death.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People with colon cancer, often called colorectal cancer. Each year, nearly 144,000 people in the United States, most older than 50, develop colon cancer, which ranks second in cancer deaths among cancers that affect both men and women.

CAVEATS Dietary data came from the participants’ responses on periodic questionnaires. The findings suggest an association between colon cancer recurrence and eating carbohydrate-laden foods, but it does not prove that such diets cause the cancer to return.

FIND THIS STUDY Nov. 7 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

LEARN MORE ABOUT colon cancer at and (click on “Health Information”).

Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.