Low Fat Diet May Boost Survival for Some Breast Cancer Patients

Low-Fat Diet

Eating a low-fat diet may reduce the risk of early death in some women with breast cancer, according to new research.

The low-fat diet seemed particularly helpful for early stage breast cancer patients with so-called estrogen receptor-negative (ER-negative) disease. These women had a 36 percent reduced risk of death from any cause over 15 years if they ate a low-fat diet for five years following their diagnosis, said study researcher Dr. Rowan Chlebowski. He is a medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Women who had both ER-negative and progesterone-receptor negative (PR-negative) cancers had an even greater reduction in death risk during the study. Over 15 years, their risk of dying from any cause was reduced by 56 percent if they ate a low-fat diet during the five years after diagnosis, he found.

Women in the study reduced their dietary fat intake from an average of about 29 percent to 20 percent for the low-fat diet.

Chlebowski is scheduled to present his findings on Friday at a breast cancer meeting in San Antonio. Studies presented at medical meetings are viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The study included more than 2,400 women aged 48 to 79. While nearly 1,600 had ER-positive cancers, the other 800 women had either ER-negative or ER- and PR-negative disease. They all had early stage breast cancer and received treatment between 1994 and 2001, according to the study.

About half of the women were assigned to follow low-fat diets. These women were given nutrition counseling and asked to keep track of their fat intake. The researchers made unannounced calls annually to request 24-hour fat-intake records. The “control” group was not given any counseling or advised to follow a low-fat diet.

Overall, the women in the low-fat group reduced their fat intake by almost 10 percent of total calories. They also lost an average of six pounds, the study authors noted.

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SOURCE: WebMD News from HealthDay
Kathleen Doheny

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