A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition has revealed multiple benefits of adopting a low-fat diet for women. "While there are many diets that provide short-term benefits like weight loss, this study scientifically validates the long-term health effects of a low-fat diet," said Dr. Garnet Anderson, a co-author of the study and senior vice president and director of Fred Hutch's Public Health Sciences Division.
It is commonly believed that a low-fat diet could help shed you extra kilos. This study found that low-fat diet commensurate with an increase in fruit, vegetable and grain servings happened to reduce death following breast cancer, slowed diabetes progression and prevented coronary heart disease.
The team examined as many as 49,000 postmenopausal women across the US to test whether a low-fat dietary pattern would reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancers and coronary heart disease.
The findings revealed that after nearly nine years of dietary change, low-fat diet didn't significantly impact outcomes for these conditions. However, the longer follow-up of nearly 20 years hinted at significant benefits, derived from modest dietary changes.
Following a low-fat diet was associated with 15-35 percent reduction in deaths from all-causes following breast cancer, a 13-25 percent reduction in insulin-dependent diabetes and a 15-30 percent reduction in coronary heart disease among 23,000 women without baseline hypertension or prior cardiovascular disease.
"The latest results support the role of nutrition in overall health, and indicate that low-fat diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains have health benefits without any observed adverse effects," said Dr. Ross Prentice, member of the Cancer Prevention and Biostatistics programs at Fred Hutch and his colleagues in the Women's Health Initiative.
Unlike other studies examining the link between diet, cancer and other diseases, WHI investigators designed the study as a long-term, randomised controlled clinical trial to limit bias and establish causal conclusions.
For the study, participants made dietary changes they learned from integrated concepts about nutrition and behaviour, taught by trained nutritionists during the first year and reinforced quarterly for nearly a decade. "The sheer number of new diets and nutrition trends can be overwhelming to people who simply want to know, 'What should I be eating?'" said Anderson.
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