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Mediterranean diet improves immunotherapy response rates and progression-free survival in advanced melanoma

Mediterranean diet

Eating a Mediterranean diet rich in fiber, mono-unsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols, has been associated with improved immunotherapy response rates and progression-free survival in advanced melanoma patients, a new study presented today at UEG Week 2022 has found.

Experts anticipate that the diet will play an important role in the success of immunotherapy and trials are being expanded to investigate outcomes for different tumor types, including digestive cancers.

A Mediterranean diet, containing mono-and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts and fish, polyphenols and fiber from vegetables, fruit, and wholegrains, was significantly associated with an improved response to immunotherapy drugs called Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors (ICIs). ICIs, which have been highly successful in treating melanoma, work by blocking immune system checkpoints, which then force the body’s own T-cells to attack cancers.

The new multi-center study by researchers from the U.K. and the Netherlands, recorded the dietary intake of 91 patients with advanced melanoma, who were treated with ICI drugs and monitored their progress with regular radiographic response check-ups.

As well as having a significant association with overall response rate, a Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with progression-free survival at 12 months.

Laura Bolte, author of the study and Ph.D. candidate under supervision of Prof. Rinse Weersma from the University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands, commented, “ICI has helped to revolutionize the treatment of different types of advanced cancers. Our study underlines the importance of dietary assessment in cancer patients starting ICI treatment and supports a role for dietary strategies to improve patient outcomes and survival.”

The study also found that eating wholegrains and legumes reduced the likelihood of developing drug induced immune-related side effects, such as colitis. In contrast, red and processed meat was associated with a higher probability of immune-related side effects.

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