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Heart and Cancer Risks Not Reduced by Lowfat Diet for Older Women


For years, doctors have recommended a low-fat diet as a way to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. But now, an important new study finds that's not the case for older women.

Ross Prentice and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, tracked 50,000 post-menopausal women over eight years. Half the women ate low-fat diets high in fruits, vegetables and grains. The other half ate their usual diets. The researchers found no significant difference in disease risk. "Our study," Prentice says, "even though it has yet to yield the dramatic results that some might have hoped for, does include some trends toward positive health benefits."

The study finds that some women who ate high fat diets before the study - but switched to low fat during the study - showed a reduction in risk of breast cancer. Prentice says with heart disease, the type of fat consumed made a difference. "Among the women who make larger reductions in saturated and trans-fat, we saw trends toward reduction in heart disease," he notes.

Prentice says the study - published in the Journal of the American Medical Association - did not find any evidence of adverse effects of avoiding fats and eating lots of fruits and vegetables … and advises women currently on low-fat diets not to switch.

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