Mediterranean Diet May Improve Immunotherapy Response Rates and Progression-Free Survival in Advanced Melanoma, New Study Suggests

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Following a Mediterranean diet rich in fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyphenols may be associated with improved immunotherapy response rates and progression-free survival in patients with advanced melanoma, according to a recent study presented at the United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week 2022 (Abstract OP021).

Experts anticipated that diet may play an important role in the future success of immunotherapy. Trials are currently being expanded to investigate outcomes for different tumor types, including digestive cancers.

Adhering to the Mediterranean diet—containing mono- and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, and fish; polyphenols; and fiber from vegetables, fruit, and whole grains—was significantly associated with an improved response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients with advanced melanoma.

The recent multi-institutional study by researchers from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands recorded the dietary intake of 91 patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors and monitored their progress with regular radiographic response checkups.

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

Study author Laura Bolte, a PhD candidate at the University Medical Center Groningen, commented: “[Immune checkpoint inhibitors have] helped to revolutionize the treatment of different types of advanced cancers. Our study underlines the importance of dietary assessment in patients [with cancer] starting [immune checkpoint inhibitor] treatment and supports a role for dietary strategies to improve patient outcomes and survival.”

The study also found that eating whole grains and legumes may have reduced the likelihood of developing drug-induced, immune-related side effects, such as colitis. In contrast, red and processed meats were associated with a higher probability of immune-related side effects.

"The relationship of [immune checkpoint inhibitor] response[s] with diet and the gut microbiome opens a promising and exciting future to enhance treatment responses. Clinical trials investigating the effect[s] of a high-fiber diet, ketogenic diet, and supplementation of omega-3 are underway. Since [immune checkpoint inhibitor] therapy is being expanded to various tumor types, including digestive cancers, these studies could unlock treatment benefits for a large group of [patients with] cancer in the future,” added Ms. Bolte.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.