According to a U.S. study, postmenopausal women who follow a low-fat diet have 24 percent less chance of a recurrence of breast cancer compared with women on a standard diet.
The study by Rowan T. Chlebowski and colleagues at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, involved 2,437 women aged 48 to 79 who were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and were treated at several medical centers. All the women had the standard treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy and or tamoxifen therapy.
Within a year of the initial diagnosis the women were divided into two groups, one group was put on a low-fat diet and the other on a standard diet. The low-fat diet group was also given nutritional advice.
Women on the low-fat diet ate an average of 33.3 grams of dietary fat each day compared with 51.3 grams of fat for another group, and lost an average of four pounds each.
It was found that during a five-year follow-up, 9.8 percent of the women on the low-fat diet had a recurrence compared with 12.4 percent for those who were on the standard diet.
Those women in the low-fat diet group with estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer also had a 42 percent lower risk recurrence compared with the women on the standard diet.
Though it is unclear how a low-fat diet can help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, some scientists theorise that it may be something other than the low intake of dietary fat.
A low-fat diet consists of more fruits and vegetables, which may be more a important factor than low-intake of fat in the reduction of risk.
The results, however they are interpreted, appear to show that women with estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer can greatly benefit from a low-fat diet.
The study was presented on May 16 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando, Florida.