Study: Lower Fat Diet Reduces Recurrence of Breast Cancer

As we have discussed previously, many studies point to a link between diet and cancer. Studies that consider long-term diets, and the diets of the very young, suggest particularly strong ties. Studies in which middle-aged people have made modest dietary changes for only a few years have had mixed results (which can create confusion and be discouraging for those who are interested in eating the healthiest diet possible).

In May, however, a study was released showing that women who had been treated for breast cancer decreased their likelihood of a recurrence with a modest reduction of fat intake. In a a question-and-answer session describing his study, Rowan Chlebowski of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center explains that the research involved more than 2,400 women as part of the Women's Intervention Nutrition Study.

After an average of five years, 9.8 percent of the women on the low-fat diet had a recurrence of cancer. Meanwhile, 12.4 percent of the women on a standard diet had recurrences. That's a 24 percent reduction. Impressively, women with cancers that were not sensitive to estrogen--and who therefore are not candidates for drugs like tamoxifen--had their risk fall even more, by about 42%.

The only dietary adjustment these women made was to eat an average of 33.3 grams of fat per day, compared to the "average diet" which contained 51.3 grams of fat. That is a very modest dietary adjustment.

In his books, Dr. Fuhrman describes a diet that is low in fat, but otherwise very different from the diet these women were following. Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations for cancer patients include fresh squeezed vegetable juices, blended salads, and his cruciferous vegetable containing soups. His menus are designed to contain optimal levels of phytonutrients as they occur in nature. Phytonutrients have been shown in scientific studies to boost the immune system's ability to defend itself against a cancer and actually enable the body to stop the growth of cancer cells. His results with many cancer patients have been dramatic, and make clear that the marginal benefits of reducing fat intake is only the beginning of what diet can do to ward off cancer.

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Robin K - November 7, 2005 10:39 AM

I read an article last week (sorry I can't give the actual paper or Dr quoted) where a well-known breast cancer doctor stated there is a definite link between soy intake and breast cancer. He was frustrated the word was not getting out. He went on to say many women are advised to eat healthier, and in doing that, they often add soy products to their diet and end up doing more harm than good. Does Dr. Furhman acknowledge/find credible a link between breast cancer and soy intake?
(Would love to know since I had been a vegetarian for many years but ate soy products almost daily !)

Henry Abbott - November 7, 2005 3:25 PM


In the member center of, Dr. Fuhrman has addressed this exact issue many times--including once just a few days ago, on November 1st. Here is a quote from his response:
"Soy does not promote breast cancer. In fact, research shows it has protective effects... That does not mean I recommend processed soy products or soy powders. It means using some tofu, frozen soy beans or some soy milk in your diet is okay."

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