Does a Low Fat Diet Effect Cancer Death?

A new study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting concluded that women who stay on a low fat diet for about eight years  reduce their risk of death from invasive breast cancer and improve their survival rate when compared with women who had not stayed on a low fat diet. Researchers followed 48,835 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 with no previous breast cancer. In this randomized clinical trial the women had also had normal mammograms and normal dietary fat intake.  Of this group, 19,541 women were placed on a low fat diet with nutritionist-led group sessions attempting to reduce fat intake  to 20% of energy and increase consumption of fruit, vegetables, and grain. The other 29,294 women followed their usual dietary pattern.

Following about eight years on the low fat diet, 1,767 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Overall survival from diagnoses of breast cancer was higher in the study group: 82% vs 78%. They believed the reduction was partly due to better survival following the breast cancer diagnosis. Researchers said “This was the first time we had examined the death after breast cancer among this group, and we found that a sustained low fat diet increased the survival rates among postmenopausal women after a breast cancer diagnosis.” They continued “The study also suggests that women would need to remain on the low fat diets to maintain the benefits of the dietary intervention.”

Researchers also found that most breast cancer characteristics such as size, nodal status, and distribution of poor prognosis, triple negative cancers and HER2 positive cancers were similar in the two groups of women. However,m there were fewer progesterone receptor negative cancers in the study group (28.4% vs 33%) and they also  found a lower cardiovascular disease mortality in the study group.

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