Low-Fat Diet May Prevent Some Recurrent Breast Cancers

By Jancin, Bruce | Clinical Psychiatry News, February 2007 | Go to article overview

Low-Fat Diet May Prevent Some Recurrent Breast Cancers


Jancin, Bruce, Clinical Psychiatry News


SAN ANTONIO -- A low-fat diet that achieved modest weight loss in women with early-stage breast cancer resulted in a striking 54% reduction in cancer relapse or death among those with hormone receptor-negative tumors, according to a second interim analysis from the Women's Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS) presented at a breast cancer symposium sponsored by the Cancer Therapy and Research Center.

This finding generated excitement among patient activists and physicians, who are aware that tamoxifen and the aromatase inhibitors--the linchpins of secondary prevention--are ineffective in the roughly 20% of breast cancer patients with hormone receptor-negative disease.

But it's too soon to celebrate, according to WINS chairman Dr. Rowan T Chlebowski.

That's because funding for the National Institutes of Health-sponsored trial disappeared before follow-up was finished, and investigators are still scrambling to fill in the blanks.

"Right now, WINS is not a definitive study, but we hope it will be as over the next 9 months or so we obtain additional follow-up data. Right now, with just this one study, one could question whether it's a valid, unequivocal result," he said.

"We tell our smoking patients to stop smoking or you'll drop dead of a heart attack or lung cancer. I don't think we can tell women with breast cancer you have to do this or you're at risk of recurrence. I think for the present time, the intervention would be for motivated women who'd like to do something additional, which may or may not work," said Dr. Chlebowski, a medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Torrance, Calif.

WINS was a 39-center trial with data available on 2,437 women, aged 48-79 years, who were randomized 60/40 to the dietary intervention and to a usual-diet control group after undergoing standard therapies for early-stage breast cancer.

The intervention, which was delivered by dieticians, reduced the percentage of total calories derived from fat to 21% versus 29% in the control arm. It also resulted in an average 6-lb lower body weight and 1.1 kg/[m.sup.2] reduction in body mass index in the diet as compared with the control group through a median 5.8 years of follow-up.

The primary combined end point of relapse or death occurred in 10. …

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