Low fat diet can cut breast cancer risk: Study

Los Angeles: Women who stay on a low fat diet for approximately eight years may reduce their risk of death from invasive breast cancers and improve their survival rates when compared with females who have not followed the dietary regimen, a new study has found.

In order to determine the effects of a low fat dietary pattern on breast cancer, researchers from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute in US conducted additional analyses of a randomised clinical trial that had followed 48,835 postmenopausal women.

The women were aged 50-79, had no prior breast cancer, had normal mammograms and normal dietary fat intake. Of those, 19,541 women were put on a low fat diet with nutritionist-led group sessions that sought to reduce fat intake reduction to 20 per cent of energy and increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables and grain.

The other 29,294 women in the trial followed their usual dietary patterns. After approximately eight years of remaining on the low fat diet, 1,767 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer, researchers said.

They found the breast cancer overall survival from diagnosis was higher in the dietary group – 82 per cent versus 78 per cent.

They said this reduction is due, in part, to better survival following breast cancer diagnosis. “This was the first time we had examined the deaths 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,” said Rowan Chlebowski from Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.

“The study also suggests that women would need to remain on the low fat diets to maintain the benefits of the dietary intervention,” said Chlebowski.

Researchers also found that most breast cancer characteristics – including size, nodal status, and distribution of poor prognosis, triple negative cancers and HER2 positive cancers – were similar between the two groups of women.

But there were fewer progesterone receptor negative cancers in the dietary group (28.4 per cent versus 33 per cent). In addition, researchers noted lower cardiovascular disease mortality in the dietary group.