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SABCS: Low-Fat Diet Ups Survival for Some Breast Cancer Patients

Women without hormone-dependent disease benefited most in study

FRIDAY, Dec. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a low-fat diet may reduce the risk of premature death in some women with breast cancer, according to new research scheduled to be presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 9 to 13 in San Antonio.

Rowan Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., a medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and colleagues included 2,437 women aged 48 to 79 in the study. While 1,597 had estrogen receptor (ER)-positive cancers, the other 840 women had either ER-negative or ER-negative and progesterone receptor (PR)-negative disease. They all had early-stage breast cancer and received treatment between 1994 and 2001. About half of the women were assigned to follow low-fat diets, reducing their fat intake by almost 10 percent of total calories. They also lost an average of 6 pounds, the study authors noted.

When the researchers looked at all the women in the low-fat group, regardless of type of cancer, and compared them to those who didn't lower fat intake, the death rate was somewhat lower in the low-fat group -- 13.6 versus 17 percent. That difference was not considered statistically significant, however. It was only with focus on the subgroup with hormone-unrelated cancers (ER-negative or ER-negative and PR-negative disease) that the more favorable effect was apparent.

Women with ER-negative disease showed a 36 percent reduced risk of death from any cause over 15 years if they ate a low-fat diet for five years following their diagnosis, Chlebowski told HealthDay. Women who had both ER-negative and PR-negative cancers had an even greater reduction in death risk during the study. Over 15 years, their risk of dying from any cause was reduced by 56 percent if they ate a low-fat diet during the five years after diagnosis, he found.

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