The Effect of a Neutropenic Diet on Infection and Mortality Rates in Cancer Patients: A Meta-Analysis

Mohamad Bassam Sonbol, Belal Firwana, Maria Diab, Ahmad Zarzour, Thomas E. Witzig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Neutropenic diets (ND) are often prescribed to cancer patients aiming to reduce infection risk. The goal of this meta-analysis was to determine if ND indeed reduced the risk of infection and death in cancer patients compared to regular diets (RD). We identified studies in cancer patients that compared the effect of ND vs. RD on the risk of infections and mortality of any cause. The overall effect was calculated by use of a random effects model. Four studies were identified encompassing 918 patients. There was no difference in major infection or mortality rates between ND and RD groups. When analyzing for the overall composite outcome of any infection or fever, the hazard ratio was significantly higher in the ND arm (relative risk = 1.18, confidence interval: 1.05 to 1.34, P= 0.007). When the analysis was restricted to only the randomized trials, both groups had a comparable composite outcome. This meta-analysis shows no superiority with respect to mortality or infection of using a neutropenic diet in cancer patients. Larger studies are needed that study a broader range of nutritional issues, including the microbiome, in this patient population. Until then, it may be time to relax the restrictions of ND.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1232-1240
Number of pages9
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cancer Research


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