New Research Suggests that Low- Fat Diets May Stem Breast Cancer Recurrence
New Research Suggests that Low-Fat Diets May Stem Breast Cancer Recurrence
May 17, 2005 - The results of a randomized clinical trial involving 2,400 postmenopausal women who had previously been treated for breast cancer were presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The results indicate that women on a low-fat diet (20 percent dietary fat) had fewer cases of breast cancer recurrence after five years of follow-up than did women on a regular diet. Additionally, the women with estrogen receptor negative breast cancer appeared to respond better to the fat-reduction diet than those with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.
Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, oncologist at Los Angeles Biomed Research Institute, Torrance, Calif., presented the results from the Women's Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS) at the ASCO meeting in Orlando.
Importance of healthy lifestyle and diet stressed
While it is not clear whether the difference in the rates for the recurrence of breast cancer was due to the lowered amount of dietary fat, to foods that might have been substituted when fat was reduced, to the weight loss reported by the women on the low-fat diet, or to some other cause and effect, the findings point to the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet.
"Avoiding excesses in any of the food groups is a good idea, and a low-fat diet can be beneficial for most people," said Cheryl Perkins, M.D., senior clinical advisor for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. "Reducing dietary fat intake and losing weight could help reduce the increased health risks that go along with being overweight, such as heart disease and diabetes," she added. Patients should discuss their weight and dietary issues with their doctors to develop their best individual approach.
Comments from the Komen Foundation
Members of the Komen Foundation Health Sciences team agreed that the study's positive implications for women who have previously been treated for breast cancer bear additional study and evaluation. "Our diets are complex and varied, and it continues to be difficult to isolate a single approach that impacts risk. This data invites additional questions and the need for continuing research," according to Dr. Perkins.
Dr. Perkins said, "It will be interesting to see what additional studies confirm about this initial data, and it would be useful to see a similarly designed study that addresses premenopausal women and women from various minority and ethnic groups."
She said, "In addition to promoting better general health, the possibility that a low-fat diet might offer an additional benefit to those patients to remain cancer-free after treatment is very good news, and we will follow the future research in this area with interest. We all are interested in tools that give us the ability to reduce our risk of cancer and increase our overall health."
Read the ASCO abstract