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Does a Low Fat Diet Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer? - Stroke? Heart Disease?

February 12th 2006

Does a Low Fat Diet Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer? - Stroke? Heart Disease?

Fruit and Vegetable Diet

The new study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues with the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial that claims a low fat diet was no healthier than normal fat diet did more than raise eyebrows.  It has experts debating back and forth whether the study was legitimate.

Was it a flawed study?  The data was extrapolated from a huge number of participants; nearly 50,000 postmenopausal women.   Of those, 40% were asked to make dietary modifications including “consumption of a reduced amount of fat (20 percent of energy) and of an increased amount of vegetables and fruits (5 or more servings a day) and grains (6 or more servings a day).” The other 60% made no dietary modifications.

The study found little difference in breast cancer rates, cardiovascular disease or stroke.  The rate of breast cancer for the women that modified their diet was 3.35% while the rate for women that did not modify their diet was 3.66%.  The difference was considered slight.


Two other studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, using the same group of postmenopausal women, found “no significant effects on incidence of (coronary heart disease) CHD, stroke, (cardio vascular disease) CVD, or heart attack.”  The low fat diet did not reduce these risks either, according to the researchers.

These studies came on-the-heals of another study published in The Lancet.  The British journal reported that increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of stroke by 26 percent.  This research included the participation of over 250,000 people spanning a 13 year period. 

The Lancet study also found that the people that ate the most fruits and vegetables had an even lower risk of stroke.  The researchers believe that the extra potassium, folate, fiber and antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables helped lower the risk of stroke.


So who is right?  Some experts claim that the WHI study did not distinguish between good fats and trans-fats.  This idea of good fat / bad fat is the key feature behind the new South Beach diet

There are numerous other studies that indicate that fruits and vegetables are good for you.  The Dash Diet, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, has been proven to lower blood pressure.  Also, the Nurses Health Study has found that eating too much animal fat may be linked to a higher risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.  There may be good reason to question the recent WHI findings.   

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By Dan Wilson
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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:50 PM