Low-fat diet does not reduce risk of colorectal cancer

In an article in the February 8 JAMA, Shirley A. A. Beresford, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues with the Women's Health Initiative (a study which included nearly 50,000 women) analyzed data from the WHI Dietary Modification Trial to determine the effect of a low-fat eating pattern on risk of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women. Previous trials examining this association have been inconclusive.

The researchers found that over the 8.1 years of follow-up, there were 201 cases of invasive colorectal cancer (0.13 percent per year) in the intervention group and 279 (0.12 percent) in the comparison group. The WHI low-fat eating pattern intervention did not reduce the risk of invasive colorectal cancers. There was no evidence of reduced risk for any category of colorectal cancer outcome associated with the intervention.

"Evidence from this study, along with that from polyp prevention trials, strongly suggests that lowering dietary fat intake and increasing fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake in mid to late life cannot be expected to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in this length of time," the authors write.

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(JAMA. 2006;295:643-654. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org)

Editor's Note: The WHI program was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services. For the financial disclosures of the authors, please see the JAMA article.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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