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Can our diets and the amount of exercise we get lower recurrences of ovarian cancer?
That's the question posed by a new study being investigated by the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), a prestigious non-profit organization that promotes "excellence in the quality and integrity of clinical and basic scientific research" in gynecologic cancers.
The GOG is interested in this subject because of the high rate of recurrence of the disease--a startling 70 percent of women treated for ovarian cancer experience a recurrence within three to four years after initial treatment.
Much has been made of the lack of peer review studies on diet and cancer, so this is in many ways a groundbreaking move by the GOG. Furthermore, it is based on lifestyle changes versus drug therapy, which is always difficult to implement (for example, quitting smoking and lung cancer). But the potential impact on survival is so compelling that the GOG investigation is being led by one of the most renowned experts in oncology, Dr. David Alberts, Director of the Arizona Cancer Center.
The background leading to the study includes results of the Women's Health Initiative trial--which found that adoption of a low fat diet over four years was associated with a 40 percent prevention of ovarian cancer, the Iowa Women's Study--showing benefits of green leafy vegetables on ovarian cancer, and a 2003 study of the protective effect of vegetable consumption on epithelial ovarian cancer.
The study, set to launch in late 2011 or early 2012, seeks to prove that following a plant-based diet with 25 percent or fewer calories from fat coupled with an increase of 4,000 steps per day can reduce the recurrence rate by at least 30 percent, a profound impact on a disease that kills a woman in the United States every half hour.
The hypothesis is that "Progression-free survival will increase among women previously treated for Stage III-IV ovarian or primary peritoneal cancer who are randomly assigned to a lifestyle intervention that includes a low fat, high vegetable and fruit diet and physical activity for a period of 24 months."