Diet and Breast Cancer

What would happen if older women could faithfully cut fat intake by a third and add lots of fruits to their diet? The answer: they’ll significantly reduce their risk of death from breast cancer, with some weight loss to boot.

The word is just out about a large study from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) that involved about 50,000 women aged 50-80 who did not have breast cancer. They kept their fat intake to about 20% of their total daily calories and consumed daily five servings of vegetables and fruit and six servings of grains. There was a statistically significant 21% lower risk for death from breast cancer (i.e. getting breast cancer followed by death attributed to it) compared to the usual-diet control participants.  Additionally, there was a significant 15% reduction in deaths from all causes after a breast cancer diagnosis in the intervention group.  There were also 8% fewer breast cancers in the diet group. It also resulted in a modest weight loss (3%) in the diet group. The news was reported recently from the meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.

With the data from a large number of participants supporting this landmark study, think twice when you hear people saying low(er)-fat diets are out.  (Keep in mind, they did not say this was a zero-fat diet study). Share this news with your elder mother, aunt or loved ones, and they’ll live longer and healthier for it!  And please, don’t wait for more studies to confirm the same kind of results for men, for other cancers and other problems like heart disease before encouraging the same.

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