ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A new study indicates that patients and survivors of colorectal cancer may be at a higher risk of dying from their ailments if they consumed red meat before they were diagnosed.

Processed meats also negatively affected the outcomes for colorectal cancer patients, the study indicated.

“The association between red and processed meat and overall mortality was driven by prediagnostic intake,” lead author Marjorie McCullough, who is also a nutritional epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, said. “This underscores the importance of a lifelong healthy diet.”

The study, whose findings were recently published in the journal Oncology and summarized in a release posted on the journal’s website, examined over 2,300 survivors of colorectal cancer – 1,282 men and 1,033 women took part in the cancer prevention study.

Researchers reportedly found through their observations that eaters of processed and red meats were at a 79 percent higher risk of dying from their cancer. Meat consumption in study subjects ranged from 1.5 servings per week to as many as 10.4 servings in the same time period.

The relationship between red and processed meat consumption and colorectal cancer could allegedly be attributed to the carcinogens created by cooking meats at high heats and during the body’s digestion of such foods. Researchers noted, however, that the cause and effect observed in this study requires further analysis.

“We know too little about the role of diet in cancer survivorship,” McCullough was quoted as saying. “For the most part, dietary recommendations for survivors are based on studies of cancer prevention, so this is an important area that deserves more attention.”

According to the release, those who ate meat the most frequently also partook in other unhealthy activities at a higher rate, such as smoking and higher levels of alcohol consumption.

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