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A change in diet can potentially help increase the cancer survival rate of obese children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, showed a new study by scientists of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on Thursday, report agencies.
The research team administered the chemotherapy drug vincristine to obese and non-obese mice with leukemia.
Researchers discovered that the mice that were switched to a low-fat diet had a dramatically improved survival rate of 92 percent, while the mice on the high-fat diet had a 17 percent survival rate.
The research, which was supported by the National Cancer Institute, is published Thursday in Cancer & Metabolism.
“The most exciting thing to me about this study is the fact that this shows that a dietary intervention could potentially help us kill leukemia cells in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” said Steven Mittelman, chief of pediatric endocrinology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.
“The current treatments for leukemia are very toxic, so finding a way to use a healthy diet, without increasing the toxicity of therapy to treat people with cancer, would be incredible,” according to Mittelman.
This research built on a past finding by Mittelman that obesity made chemotherapy drugs much less effective in children with leukemia. After chemotherapy, obese children with leukemia relapse 50 percent more often than their lean counterparts.
Recent studies have also found that one in three children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia was overweight or obese at diagnosis.