Scientists confirms the long-term benefits of a low-fat diet

In a new study, researchers found several women’s health benefits from a low-fat diet.

They found a low-fat diet commensurate with an increase in fruit, vegetable, and grain servings reduced death following breast cancer, slowed diabetes and prevented coronary heart disease.

The research was led by a team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The team launched the Dietary Modification Trial in 1993.

The study involved nearly 49,000 postmenopausal women across the U.S. to test whether a low-fat dietary pattern would reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancers and coronary heart disease.

After nearly nine years of dietary change, they found that the low-fat diet did not significantly impact outcomes for these conditions.

However, after a longer-term follow-up of nearly 20 years, researchers found significant benefits, derived from modest dietary changes emerged and persisted including:

A 15-35% reduction in deaths from all-causes following breast cancer;

A 13-25% reduction in insulin-dependent diabetes;

A 15-30% reduction in coronary heart disease among 23,000 women without hypertension or prior cardiovascular disease.

The latest results support the role of nutrition in overall health and indicate that low-fat diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains have health benefits without any adverse effects.

Unlike other studies examining the link between diet, cancer and other diseases, WHI investigators designed the study as a long-term, randomized controlled clinical trial to limit bias and establish causal conclusions.

Participants made intentional dietary changes resulting from learned integrated concepts about nutrition and behavior, taught by trained nutritionists during the first year and reinforced quarterly for nearly a decade.

While there are many diets that provide short-term benefits like weight loss, this study scientifically validates the long-term health effects of a low-fat diet.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Ross Prentice.

The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition.

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