A recent presentation at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology revealed that a low fat diet for patients with early breast cancer may reduce the risk of a recurrence.
Breast cancer is a malignancy associated with the tissues of the breast. Early breast cancer refers to cancer that has not spread outside the breast. There are many factors that may contribute to a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, including age, health history, genetic changes and hormone use. The association between diet and cancer continues to be studied extensively, although no firm understanding of the link has been well established.
Researchers conducted a multi-center study to evaluate the association between dietary interventions and possible outcomes for women with breast cancer. The study included 2,500 postmenopausal women diagnosed with early breast cancer that had been treated with standard treatment approaches including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. The women were each randomized to either strict diets that were mediated by nutritionists and counselors or no diet guidelines.
After 5 years of follow-up, the women who underwent the strict diet intervention had significantly reduced the fat in their diets when compared to the women who had no diet intervention. Overall, there was a 24% risk reduction in the relapse rate among the patients who had undergone the dietary intervention. Additionally, disease-free survival was improved by 20% in the patients who received the dietary intervention. Women with hormone-negative breast cancer appear to have gained the most benefit from the low-fat diet.
Researchers concluded that the results of this study indicate that postmenopausal women with early breast cancer may significantly reduce their risk of recurrence with a reduced fat diet. Although further studies will be needed to confirm these finding, the results of this large study may shed some light on the role of diet and cancer.
Reference: Chlebowski R, Blackburn G, Elashoff R, et al. Dietary fat reduction in postmenopausal women with primary breast cancer: Phase III Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS). Proceedings from the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASC). Presented May 16, 2005 at a plenary session. Abstract #10.