Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds

Gina Kolata | February 8

NYT – The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.

Although all the study participants were women, the colon cancer and heart disease results should also apply to men, said Dr. Jacques Rossouw, the project officer for the Women’s Health Initiative.

Not everyone was convinced. Some, like Dr. Dean Ornish, a longtime promoter of low-fat diets and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., said that the women did not reduce their fat to low enough levels or eat enough fruits and vegetables, and that the study, even at eight years, did not give the diets enough time.

[...]

The diets studied “had an antique patina,” said Dr. Peter Libby, a cardiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School. These days, Dr. Libby said, most people have moved on from the idea of controlling total fat to the idea that people should eat different kinds of fat.

1 comment to Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds

  • Raja

    Can Foods Affect Colon Cancer Survival?

    New York Times’ Well Blog, By Anahad O’Connor, November 9

    A new study suggests that what you eat may affect your chances of surviving colon cancer.

    The research is among the first to look at the impact that specific nutrients have on the likelihood of disease recurrence in people with colon cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. It found that people treated for Stage 3 disease, in which tumor cells have spread to lymph nodes, had greatly increased chances of dying of it or experiencing a recurrence if their diets were heavy in carbohydrate-rich foods that cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin.

    The patients who consumed the most carbohydrates and foods with high glycemic loads — a measure of the extent to which a serving of food will raise blood sugar — had an 80 percent greater chance of dying or having a recurrence during the roughly seven-year study period than those who had the lowest levels. Stage 3 colon cancer patients typically have a five-year survival rate of about 50 to 65 percent.

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