Low fat diet linked to reduce ovarian cancer risk

In collaboration with the Press Association

New US research suggests that a low fat diet could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in healthy postmenopausal women. Results from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial show that, after four years, women who decreased the amount of dietary fat they consumed were 40 per cent less likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who followed normal dietary patterns. No effect was found during the first four years because preventive benefits on cancer often take many years to develop. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, followed 48,835 healthy, postmenopausal women for an average of 8.1 years to test whether a low-fat diet would reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Nearly 20,000 women in the intervention group were counselled to decrease fat intake to 20 per cent of calories and to replace calories from fat with calories from vegetables, fruits, and grains. Women in the other group did not receive counselling, but were given diet-related education materials. By the end of the study, women in the low-fat diet group averaged 29 per cent calories from fat, compared to 37 per cent calories from fat in the usual diet group. The low-fat diet group also increased their consumption of vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Researchers found that women who started with the highest fat intake and who reduced their fat intake the most during the study lowered their risk of ovarian cancer the most.

The WHI is the most comprehensive study to date to investigate the causes and prevention of the major diseases that affect older women in the US. So far, it has been ongoing for 15 years, and the study?s findings have already brought about changes in clinical practice for heart disease, breast and bowel cancer, and osteoporosis.