New study questions low-fat advice

February 8, 2006 in Cancer Prevention, Healthy Eating, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

New study questions low-fat advice

According to study findings published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a low fat diet does not offer protection against breast and colon cancers or cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.

At first glance, this latest study seems to contradict other studies which have found a link between a high fat diet and increased risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and obesity. Using data from the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, researchers followed over 48, 000 post-menopausal women for eight years.  Researchers assigned 40 percent of the women to a low fat diet and increased fruit and vegetable consumption. The remaining women did not make any changes to their diet. After eight years of follow up, researchers found that there was no overall difference in risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease or stroke between the two groups.

However, there were several limitations to the study that should be noted. Since colon cancer can take years to develop, the study period of eight years may not have been long enough to record the full effects of a diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables.

In terms of cardiovascular disease, the study did not differentiate between "good" fat and "bad" fats. Since the study began in 1993, there have been significant advances in terms of knowledge regarding types of dietary fat. There is overwhelming evidence that trans and saturated fats increase cholesterol, while certain types of polyunsaturated fats reduce the risk of heart disease.

Despite these latest findings, it is recommended that individuals stick with a diet that emphasizes low fat foods, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.