Eating a Low Fat Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrance
Another study presented at this year’s San Antonio Conference is good news for women who want to be proactive in reducing their chances of recurrence.
Dr. Chlebowski reported on the Women’s Intervention Study (WINS), a trial involving 2,437 women who were randomized to receive a diet very low in fat, with aggressive nutrition counseling vs. nutritional discussions every three months. By US standards, the non-intervention group had a low fat diet -- about 51 grams a day of fat; the women in the intervention group on average were consuming 33 grams of fat. After five years the women in the lower fat group weighed, on average, six pounds less.
The chance of a relapse was 9.8% in the very low fat group compared to 12.4% -- or a 24% lower risk for relapse. I believe this reduction was seen primarily in women whose tumors did NOT express estrogen receptors, which is a little harder to explain, but it would not dissuade me from recommending trying to minimize fat in the diet following a diagnosis of breast cancer. In addition, it’s hard to separate how much of the effect was due to a lower fat diet vs. a reduction in weight and/or total calories -- previous blogs have highlighted the benefits of exercise in reducing the chance of a recurrence.