Low-fat diet may improve survival in breast cancer, study finds

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Scientists from the City of Hope National Medical Center found that eating a low-fat diet for a long time may boost survival in older women with breast cancer.

Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. It can occur in women and rarely in men.

Symptoms of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, bloody discharge from the nipple, and changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast.

Treatment depends on the stage of cancer. It may consist of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Previous research has found a low-fat diet was linked to a lower risk of death after breast cancer.

However, the dietary influence on survival after breast cancer diagnosis was unknown.

In the current study, researchers aimed to determine the link of a low-fat diet with breast cancer overall survival (breast cancer followed by death from any cause measured from cancer diagnosis).

They used data from the Women’s Health Initiative randomized clinical trial that was conducted at 40 US clinical centers enrolling participants from 1993 through 1998.

Participants were more than 48,000 older women with no previous breast cancer and dietary fat intake of greater than 32% by food frequency questionnaire.

These women were assigned to a dietary intervention group with goals to reduce fat intake to 20% of energy and increase fruit, vegetable, and grain intake or a usual-diet group.

Dietary group participants with breast cancers continued to participate in subsequent dietary intervention activities.

During the 11.5-year follow-up period, 1764 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

With 516 total deaths, breast cancer overall survival was much greater for women who ate a low-fat diet than women who ate a usual diet.

In the dietary group, there were fewer deaths from breast cancer, other cancers, and heart disease.

Based on the findings, researchers suggest that in women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer during the dietary intervention period, those in the low-fat diet group had increased overall survival.

They suggest the increase is due, in part, to better survival from several causes of death.

The research was published in JAMA Oncology and conducted by Rowan T Chlebowski et al.

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