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Study: Low-fat diet may fight breast cancer

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Study: Low-fat diet may fight breast cancer

Eating low-fat foods could reduce a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer, a new study has found. The study author, Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, from Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, said the message from the findings should be one of dietary moderation rather than looking for any one particular food or food group.

The findings are to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, from May 31 to June 4. A diet full of healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes had been shown to protect against cancer and had been recommended by medical experts. In Nigeria, female breast cancer is recognised as major cause of morbidity and mortality with incidence rate ranging from 36.3 to 50.2/100,000 live birth. Chlebowski said the low-fat diet was close in content to the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) diet.

The diet approach emphasised eating vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, while avoiding high-fat meats and dairy products, according to the United States National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Besides, diet had long been suspected to be a factor in cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, obesity had been linked to 12 different types of cancers, including post-menopausal breast cancer. Reacting to the development, Chlebowski said: “This is the only study providing randomised controlled trial evidence that a dietary intervention can reduce women’s risk of death from breast cancer.”

Chlebowski noted that previous studies had shown a higher cancer incidence in countries where people tend to eat more fat. The latest study looked at the effect a low-fat diet might have on the incidence of breast cancer and death. Nearly 49,000 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79, who had no history of previous breast cancer, were included in the study.

Eighty per cent of the women, drawn from 40 centres across the United States (U. S.), were white, which Chlebowski said matched the population when the study began. Between 1993 and 1998, the women were randomly assigned to one of two dietary groups.

One group was assigned to a normal diet. This diet had about 32 per cent of their calories from fat. The lowfat group had a target of 20 per cent or less of calories from fat. However, the researchers found that eating low-fat foods reduced a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer by 21 per cent. Similarly, the women on low-fat diets also cut their risk of dying from any cause by 15 per cent. The latest study looked at the effect a low-fat diet might have on the incidence of breast cancer and death. The study author said the women in the low-fat study group reduced their overall calories, changed their cooking methods, and reduced their portions of meat and dairy products.

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