24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500
Regular Hours: M-Fri 8am - 5pm
Every 3rd Thurs of the Month - Extended Hours Until 7 pm

Basic InformationLatest News
AHA News: Want a Personalized Diet to Prevent Disease? Nutrition Scientists Are Working on ItFDA Says Gene-Edited Cattle Are Safe to EatAHA News: Plant-Based Diet May Slow Cognitive Decline in Black Adults as They AgeAHA News: Eating Too Many Sulfur Amino Acids May Boost Cardiovascular Disease and Death RiskCould the Keto Diet Help People With MS?Sudden Reaction to a Food? It Could Be Adult-Onset AllergyGetting Rid of Meat in Your Diet May Lower Cancer RiskStudy Finds No Heart Benefit From Veggies. Nutritionists Disagree.Poor Labeling Dangerous to People With Sesame AllergyValentine's Chocolates May Do Your Heart Good — ReallyStudy Hints That Cutting Daily Calories Could Extend Healthy Life SpanSpice Up Your Meal to Avoid More SaltHow Calling a Food 'Light' in Calories Can BackfireGruesome Warning Images on Soda Labels Could Cut ConsumptionMeat-Heavy Diets Might Have Link to MSAHA News: Sound the Fiber Alarm! Most of Us Need More of It in Our DietOrdering Groceries Online? Good Luck Finding Nutrition InfoAHA News: Today's Hot Topic: Should You Let Chile Peppers Spice Up Your Meals?Celebrities' Social Media Promotes Junk Food, Often for FreeMore Olive Oil May Bring Longer Life: StudyWant to Avoid Glaucoma? Look at What You EatBeyond Chicken? KFC to Serve Up Plant-Based Meals'Few-Foods' Diet Could Be Recipe for Easing ADHD SymptomsDid Adding Calorie Counts to Restaurant Menus Make Meals Healthier?Packaged Salads Tied to E. Coli Outbreak in 6 StatesLove Black Coffee & Dark Chocolate? It Could Be in Your DNAWeight Loss Your Resolution? Experts Look at Fasting, Keto and Whole 30Science Reveals How Red Meat Harms the HeartCould a High-Fiber Diet Help Boost Cancer Survival?Most of Restaurant Menu Must Be Vegetarian Before Meat Eaters Make the SwitchFresh Express Salad Mixes Tied to Multi-State Listeria OutbreakBig Review Confirms Power of Fasting Diets for Weight LossJunk Food Ads Reaching Kids Through Livestream Gaming PlatformsWith Certain Oils Gone, Margarine May Now Be Healthier Than ButterOver 234,000 Pounds of Ham, Pepperoni Recalled Due to ListeriaAHA News: Foraging for Food Connects You to Nature – But Do Your Homework Before You Eat'Ultra-Processed' Foods Up Odds for a Second Heart Attack or StrokeYour Plant-Based Diet Could Really Help the PlanetKraft Recalls Powdered Drinks Over Metal, Glass ConcernsAHA News: Is Turkey Healthy for You? Read This Before You Gobble AnyCDC Warns of E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Baby SpinachSalmonella Outbreak Linked to Salami Sticks Rises to 31 Cases in 10 StatesLess Salt, More Potassium for a Healthier Heart: StudyYour Morning Cup of Coffee Can Affect Your Heart's RhythmsAdult 'Picky Eaters' on What Parents Did Right and WrongMany People May Be Eating Their Way to DementiaAHA News: Two Omega-3s in Fish Oil May Boost Brain Function in People With Heart DiseaseGet Your Dietary Fat From Plants, Cut Your Stroke RiskLet Babies Eat Eggs to Avoid Egg Allergy Later: StudyFish on Your Plate May Keep Your Brain Sharp
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Wellness and Personal Development

Could a High-Fiber Diet Help Boost Cancer Survival?

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Dec 27th 2021

new article illustration

MONDAY, Dec. 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- People undergoing immune-boosting therapy for advanced melanoma may respond better if they eat a high-fiber diet, a new study hints.

Researchers said much more study is needed, but their initial findings -- in both melanoma patients and lab mice -- suggest that fiber-rich foods may help via their effects on gut bacteria.

In contrast, there were signs that probiotic supplements might lessen that benefit.

The study -- published Dec. 24 in Science -- looked at how diet and the gut microbiome might affect cancer patients' response to immunotherapy -- treatments that enlist the immune system to help kill tumors.

The microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria and other microbes that naturally dwell in the human body, largely in the gut. Those microbes are integral to the body's normal processes -- from metabolism and nutrient synthesis to brain function and immune defenses.

In fact, immune system cells and gut bacteria are continually interacting, said Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of the book "The Gut-Immune Connection."

Gut bacteria play a key role in "educating and training" the immune system, explained Mayer, who was not involved in the new study.

Fiber, meanwhile, is one factor in the composition of the gut microbiome. It "feeds" certain types of bacteria -- including including ones that produce short-chain fatty acids with anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor activity.

Past research has suggested that the gut microbiome can influence cancer patients' responses to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Those drugs, such as Keytruda and Opdivo, are used to treat several types of cancer, and work by releasing a particular "brake" on immune system T-cells, freeing them to find and attack cancer cells.

So an intriguing question is whether diet, including fiber, can alter patients' responses to those treatments, said study author Dr. Jennifer Wargo, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

To investigate, her team studied 128 patients with advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Diet questionnaires showed that 37 of those patients had "sufficient" fiber intake -- at least 20 grams per day from foods like vegetables, fruit, beans and whole grains. The rest were getting too little dietary fiber.

On average, the study found, patients eating enough fiber fared better: 76% responded to immunotherapy, versus 60% of those with low-fiber diets. That meant their tumors had at least partly regressed, or their cancer remained stable for at least six months.

No such benefit was found among the 49 patients who said they used probiotic supplements, however. And the best response rate was seen among patients who ate plenty of fiber but took no probiotics -- at 82%.

None of that proves fiber was the reason.

So the researchers next studied lab mice with melanoma tumors. They found that giving the animals commercially available probiotic supplements interfered with their response to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

In contrast, a high-fiber diet slowed tumor growth in mice treated with the drugs, and appeared to boost their T-cell activity. The fiber-rich diet made no difference, however, in mice with no gut bacteria. According to Wargo, that suggests the diet exerted its effects via the gut microbiome.

After a cancer diagnosis, Wargo said, people often want to do something to take control and help support their treatment.

Sometimes they turn to supplements. But based on the current findings, Wargo said, caution may be in order.

"People undergoing cancer treatment should discuss probiotic use with their care team," she said.

As for fiber, Mayer said more study is needed. He noted there is "a lot of basic science" to support the notion that fiber could benefit cancer patients via the gut microbiome.

But to prove that, Mayer said, clinical trials will have to test the effects of adding fiber to patients' diets. He noted that plant foods, the main source of dietary fiber, also have other nutrients, including polyphenols, that could part of the story as well.

A trial putting fiber to the test is underway, Wargo said. The researchers are enrolling melanoma patients receiving immunotherapy and will randomly assign them to varying amounts of dietary fiber, added to a healthy diet recommended by the American Cancer Society.

"It's early days in this research," Wargo said. But ultimately, she added, studies of diet, gut microbes and immune function could have broad implications -- not only for people with various types of cancer, but everyone.

Could, for example, certain diets help people fight infections or respond better to vaccines, like those for the flu and COVID-19?

For anyone looking to support a healthy gut microbiome, Mayer said people should aim for a range of plant foods, as well as fermented foods like yogurt, fermented cottage cheese, kimchi and sauerkraut -- which research has linked to greater diversity in gut bacteria.

Mayer noted, though, that is easier said than done for people who cannot afford or do not have ready access to healthy whole foods.

More information

The Harvard School of Public Health has more on nutrition and the microbiome.

SOURCES: Jennifer Wargo, MD, professor, genomic medicine and surgical oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; Emeran Mayer, MD, PhD, professor, medicine, and director, Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine; Science, Dec. 24, 2021