Diet may have an important impact on one’s risk of dying from breast cancer, according to new research out of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The study looked specifically at low-fat diets, finding ‘no down-sides’ to the dietary composition in addition to a potential health benefit: a major reduction in breast cancer death risk. This is the first large randomized clinical trial to demonstrate this potential benefit.
According to the ASCO, the findings result from the Women’s Health Initiative, a clinical trial that involved the study of post-menopausal women who didn’t have a history of breast cancer. Of the approximately 49,000 women who participated, researchers found that women who consumed a low-fat diet that contained daily fruit, vegetables, and grains had a 21-percent lower risk of death from breast cancer versus women who had a normal, higher fat diet.
Researchers describe the beneficial diets as ‘balanced,’ meaning they don’t heavily skew toward fatty foods, but instead limit fat consumption by balancing it out with low-fat items: fruit, vegetables, and grains, in this case. Overall, no more than 25-percent of these individuals’ daily caloric intake came from fat. In comparison, a ‘normal’ diet under the study contained 32-percent or greater quantities of fat.
In addition to the significant reduction in breast cancer death risk, the study found that women who consumed a balanced diet experienced an average weight loss of 3-percent, though researchers note the weight loss didn’t impact death risk. As well, the low-fat group was found to have a 15-percent lower risk of death from any cause following a breast cancer diagnosis.
This study joins a large body of past research that has linked low-fat diets to a variety of health benefits, including a decrease in cardiovascular disease risk factors. It should be noted, however, that the study didn’t focus solely on low-fat diets, but on a specific variety of low-fat consumption that emphasized the daily presence of fruit, vegetables, and grains. The full study can be found through ASCO here.