News Release

Mediterranean diet improves immunotherapy response rates and progression-free survival in advanced melanoma, new study suggests

Eating a Mediterranean diet, rich in fibre, mono-unsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols, has been associated with improved immunotherapy response rates and progression-free survival in advanced melanoma patients.

Reports and Proceedings

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(Vienna, October 9, 2022) Eating a Mediterranean diet, rich in fibre, 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.1

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 tumour types, including digestive cancers.

A Mediterranean diet, containing mono-and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts and fish, polyphenols and fibre 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.2

The new multi-centre study by researchers from the UK 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 PhD candidate under supervision of Prof. Rinse Weersma from the University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands, commented, “ICI has helped to revolutionise 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.

“The relationship of ICI response with diet and the gut microbiome opens a promising and exciting future to enhance treatment responses. Clinical trials investigating the effect of a high fibre diet, ketogenic diet and supplementation of omega-3 are underway. Since ICI therapy is being expanded to various tumour types, including digestive cancers, these studies could unlock treatment benefits for a large group of cancer patients in the future,” added Laura Bolte.

Notes to Editors

For further information, or to arrange an interview with Laura Bolte please contact Luke Paskins on +44 (0) 208 154 6393 or media@ueg.eu

We kindly ask that a reference to UEG is included when communicating any information within this press release.

About Laura Bolte 

Laura Bolte is a dietitian and MD PhD candidate at the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), Groningen, Netherlands. Laura Bolte’s co-authors were Dr Johannes Björk and Dr. Karla Lee. The project was supervised by Professor Rinse Weersma and Professor Geke Hospers, both of the University Medical Center Groningen.

About UEG

Founded in 1992 United European Gastroenterology (UEG) is the leading non-profit organisation for excellence in digestive health in Europe and beyond with its headquarters in Vienna. We improve the prevention and care of digestive diseases in Europe through providing top tier education, supporting research, and advancing clinical standards. As Europe’s home for multidisciplinary gastroenterology, we unite over 50,000 engaged professionals from national and specialist societies, individual digestive health experts and related scientists from all fields. With our innovative online platform, the myUEG Community, we enable digestive health professionals from across the globe to connect and benefit from a plethora of outstanding free resources and educational activities. Our offers include UEG Week, our annual congress, online and face-to-face educational experiences, research support, a scientific journal, and a range of opportunities in the form of fellowships and grants. We provide numerous guidelines, standards and quality improvement initiatives and campaign at the European level to ensure continued resources for research into digestive health while working closely with patient organisations.

Find out more about UEG’s work by visiting www.ueg.eu or contact: Luke Paskins on +44 (0) 208 154 6393 or media@ueg.eu

References

  1. Bolte L, et al. Dietary Intake Influences the Response to Cancer Immunotherapy. Presented at UEG Week 2022; 9 October 2022; Vienna, Austria.
  2. National Cancer Institute. Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy/checkpoint-inhibitors (Accessed: September 2022).

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