Could Cutting Fat Help Breast Cancer Treatments?

Much has been written about the benefits of a low- fat diet. As things currently stand, many Americans consume too much fat on a daily basis. Aside from helping to trim the waistline, cutting fat could also be especially beneficial to women struggling with breast cancer.

Keeping Score

A 2018 report, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, found that women who adhere to a low-fat diet have a better chance of surviving breast cancer. The study based its conclusions on data from nearly 20,000 people, all of whom participated in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and agreed to limit fat consumption. The authors compared this group of subjects against a second group of roughly 29,000 WHI participants who maintained their regular diets.

About eight and a half years, the research team had documented 1,764 cases of breast cancer. They noted that, a decade after diagnosis, 78 percent of women in the larger “control” group were still living. In contrast, 82 percent of those in the low- fat group were alive at the end of this timeframe. In other words, women who switched to a healthier diet had a 22 percent lower risk of succumbing to breast cancer. Furthermore, those eating relatively healthy food were less likely of develop hard-to- treat tumors.

Eating Smart

The difference between the two groups in fat consumption was significant; fat accounted for 24 percent of all calories for those in the low-fat group, compared to 35 percent for the control group. According to the authors themselves, the goal of the study was to encourage women to choose fruits, vegetables and whole grains over high-fat junk food.

In an email exchange with Reuters news agency, lead study author Dr. Rowan Chlebowski noted that his team’s work is, to date, the “only full-scale randomized trial addressing this issue.” In the United States, it is estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. In 2018 alone, over 40,000 women are expected to succumb to this disease.

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