A study shows that a diet involving more fruit and less fat has an impact on the risk of death from breast cancer. Click here to find out more!
Fruit Intake and Less Fat Found to Reduce Impact of Breast Cancer
Eating a more balanced meal is obviously good for your health, as many studies have shown over the years. But while keeping track of your general health this way is a good thing, recent studies have shown even more concrete positive effects. Specifically, it seems that cutting down on fat in your diet and increasing fruit and vegetable intake reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer.
These results are particularly noteworthy because they aren’t a conclusion of a small study. We’re talking about the findings of extensive research, which involved almost 50,000 women over the timespan of twenty years. With that in mind — what exactly did this study conclude?
It turns out that healthy women who changed their diets for the better over at least eight years, and developed breast cancer at a later date, had a lower risk of dying from the disease. And it’s not a small difference either — they had a 21% lower risk of death from breast cancer in comparison to women who continued with their previous diets. Crucially, though, a fruit-heavy and fat-light diet did not affect their risk of developing the disease in any meaningful way; but it did lower their chances of dying from it.
Seeing as the risk of developing breast cancer is generally low, it took two decades for the differences between women with different diets to become apparent. While the study hoped to come to some kind of conclusion about impacts on the risk of developing the disease in the first place, unfortunately, that didn’t seem to happen. However, doctors say it’s a good thing that women can modify their diets to have better odds of survival.
Dr. Jennifer Ligibel works at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. And she says that any patient who finds out that they have breast cancer is extremely eager to try anything they can to improve chances of surviving. That’s why learning about dietary changes and weight loss is an extremely good thing. Though, Dr. Ligibel was simply commenting on the study’s results, having no role in it herself. Other experts in the field of oncology also concluded that proof of dietary effects on breast cancer treatment presents a huge opportunity for patients worldwide.
Dr. Lidia Schapira, who is a spokesperson for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said that these findings must be taken with extreme seriousness. As it turns out, what people eat while undergoing treatment matters.
These findings were presented by the Women’s Health Initiative. This study was funded federally, and it previously tackled long-held beliefs about using hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause.
The study started in the 1990s, and the diet section of the study included women aged 50 to 79, who did not have breast cancer at the time. When the study began, a third of their calories came from fat intake. They were divided into two groups for the purposes of the study. One group was steered towards limiting fat intake and eating more vegetables and fruit, through regular sessions for counseling. And the other group was left to continue their normal eating routines.
The low-fat group managed to cut down on fat intake in their diets significantly over the next eight years, while the group which received no counseling did not alter their eating habits in a meaningful way.
After a period of time, researchers concluded that there were fewer overall deaths from natural causes among the women who altered their diets. But after 20 years, it turns out that this group of women had fewer deaths from breast cancer, among those who developed the disease. But the question here is — did cutting down on fat help the most or was it the increased intake of fruits and vegetables?
The experts involved concluded that, to put it simply — diet is a complex thing. When people cut down on one type of food, they tend to supplant it with another. That’s why it’s difficult to discern exactly what dietary change produces which exact effect. Still, though — knowing that a healthier diet produces meaningful effects even in the treatment of breast cancer is a good indicator of how important it is to watch what we eat.