Last Updated on May 1, 2016 at 12:39 PM
Health In Focus
  • The latest research indicates that long-term consumption of low-fat diet, which includes fruits, vegetables and grains, may reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer.
  • The findings reveal that survival rates improved by 82 percent in the low-fat diet group as compared to the regular dietary group.
  • However, the effect was small and researchers of other studies are skeptical about the results.
Breast cancer, which is reportedly the second most common form of cancer in women, is mostly seen in women who are over the age of 50, but younger women are also affected at times.

It is estimated that nearly 58,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. A lot of breast cancers could be detected at an early stage by breast screening.
Low-fat Diet Linked to Improved Survival Rate in Women With Breast Cancer
Low-fat Diet Linked to Improved Survival Rate in Women With Breast Cancer

Studies conducted nearly half a century ago have shown a link between dietary fat intake and breast cancer, however no conclusive evidence could be established at that time.

Study by Rowan Chlebowski and Associates
  • Recent research suggests that eating a low-fat diet, which includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains for approximately 8 years may reduce the risk of dying from invasive breast cancer and also improves their survival rates as compared to women who were not on the low-fat diet regimen.
  • To study the link between low-fat dietary pattern and breast cancer, Rowan Chlebowski MD, PhD from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and few researchers from the Women's Health Initiative conducted a randomized clinical trial involving 50,000 post-menopausal women between the ages of 50 to 79 years. These women did not have any prior history of breast cancer, had normal mammograms and normal dietary fat intake.
  • Of all the study participants, about 19,541 women were assigned to eat a low-fat diet under the supervision of a trained nutritionist. The aim was to reduce the fat intake to 20 percent of calories consumed mainly by increasing the consumption of vegetables, fruits and grains.
  • The other 29, 294 participants were asked to follow their usual dietary pattern.
  • The study participants were followed for a period of eight years. At the end of the study, it was seen that 1,767 of the low-fat diet group had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • The study also revealed that the breast cancer overall survival from diagnosis was higher in the dietary group (82 percent) as compared to the control group (78 percent).
  • Most of the breast cancer characteristics including size, nodal status, and distribution of poor prognosis, triple negative cancers and HER2 positive cancers were reported to be similar between the two groups. However, the dietary group was seen to have fewer progesterone receptor negative cancers (28.4% versus 33%).
  • Heart disease mortality rate was also reportedly lower in the dietary group.
Lead author, professor Rowan Chlebowski commented, "This was the first time we had examined the deaths after breast cancer among this group. We found that a sustained low-fat diet increased the survival rates among post-menopausal women after a breast cancer diagnosis. The study also suggests that women would need to remain on the low fat diets to maintain the benefits of the dietary intervention."

The study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Louisiana, US.

John Pierce, a professor and cancer researcher at the University of California, San Diego said that he was very skeptical of this study. In his research on breast cancer survivors, his team was unable to find any effect from a major change in vegetables, fruit, fiber, and fat.

It is still quite unclear whether reducing fat intake could lead to better cancer survival rates and need to be further researched upon.



Source: Medindia

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