Clinical trial reveals low-fat diet is associated with reduced pancreatic cancer incidence in overweight women

November 7, 2017 by Allison Mickey, Baylor College of Medicine

In a trailblazing clinical trial, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have released the findings of the impact a low-fat diet has on pancreatic cancer risk in postmenopausal women. The study appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification randomized clinical trial enrolled 48,835 postmenopausal , aged 50 to 79 years, from 1993 to 1998. All of the women originally involved in the clinical trial had diets consisting of high-fat foods at the time of enrollment. Women in the trial were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the usual diet comparison group. The goal of the intervention group was to reduce fat intake and increase the intake of vegetables, fruits and grains, with intervention ending in 2005.

Using this cohort, the research team identified a subset 46,200 women and examined the effect of low-fat diets on cancer incidence as a non-primary outcome of this trial.

"Based on previous observational studies, we knew diet may play a role in the risk for pancreatic cancer in both men and women," said Dr. Li Jiao, associate professor of medicine-gastroenterology at Baylor and first and corresponding author on the paper. "However, there has been no clinical trial designed to answer the question on whether changing diet can modify risk of pancreatic cancer. In order to address this question in the real world, we analyzed the Women's Health Initiative-diet modification cohort, given its large size and long follow-up time. The follow-up for pancreatic cancer is through 2014 for our analysis."

After 15 years of follow-up, 92 pancreatic cases were identified in the intervention group, and 165 in the comparison group. The incidence of pancreatic cancer was lower in the intervention group than in the comparison group (35 per 100,000 versus 41 per 100,000 people per year).

"Our analysis revealed that intervening with a low-fat diet was particularly effective in reducing pancreatic cancer risk in overweight and obese postmenopausal women. Those who were in the had significantly reduced risk of pancreatic compared to the comparison group," said Jiao, who also is a member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor. "These results are in line with previous observational studies and dietary guidelines, and the clinical trial provides additional evidence that a low-fat diet may be an effective preventative measure for this disease in women. However, our study findings may not be generalizable to men."

Furthermore, reduced risk was not observed in with a body mass index of lower than 25kg/m2, suggesting these women may have metabolic differences that should be explored in the future. It is noted that the sample size was small in this subgroup analysis.

The research team hopes these results will motivate at-risk women to develop a healthy, balanced diet as a preventative measure against and other inflammatory conditions.

Explore further: Low fat diet helps postmenopausal women avoid deadly breast cancers

More information: Li Jiao et al. Low-fat Dietary Pattern and Pancreatic Cancer Risk in the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Randomized Controlled Trial, JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2017). DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djx117

Related Stories

Low fat diet helps postmenopausal women avoid deadly breast cancers

April 15, 2016
Women who stayed on a low fat diet for approximately eight years reduced their risk of death from invasive breast cancers and improved their survival rates when compared with women who had not followed the dietary regimen, ...

Weight-loss surgery may curb risk for certain cancers

October 17, 2017
(HealthDay)—Weight-loss surgery could help some severely obese people reduce their risk for cancer by at least 33 percent, a new study suggests.

Bariatric surgery lowers cancer risk for severely obese patients

October 6, 2017
Severely obese patients who undergo bariatric surgery lower their risk of developing cancer by at least a third, according to a University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine researcher leading a large retrospective cohort ...

Researchers find magnesium intake may be beneficial in preventing pancreatic cancer

December 18, 2015
Indiana University researchers have found that magnesium intake may be beneficial in preventing pancreatic cancer.

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Recommended for you

Single-cell study in a childhood brain tumor affirms the importance of context

April 20, 2018
In defining the cellular context of diffuse midline gliomas, researchers find the cells fueling their growth and suggest a potential approach to treating them: forcing their cells to be more mature.

Aggressive breast cancer already has resistant tumour cells prior to chemotherapy

April 20, 2018
Difficult to treat and aggressive "triple-negative" breast cancer is chemoresistant even before chemotherapy begins, a new study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center ...

Mechanism that drives development of liver cancer brought on by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease discovered

April 19, 2018
A team of researchers from several institutions in China has found a mechanism that appears to drive the development of a type of liver cancer not caused by alcohol consumption. In their paper published in the journal Science ...

Discovery adds to evidence that some children are predisposed to develop leukemia

April 19, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital researchers have made a discovery that expands the list of genes to include when screening individuals for possible increased susceptibility to childhood leukemia. The finding is reported ...

Scientists identify 170 potential lung cancer drug targets using unique cellular library

April 19, 2018
After testing more than 200,000 chemical compounds, UT Southwestern's Simmons Cancer Center researchers have identified 170 chemicals that are potential candidates for development into drug therapies for lung cancer.

Chip-based blood test for multiple myeloma could make bone biopsies a relic of the past

April 19, 2018
The diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting plasma cells, traditionally forces patients to suffer through a painful bone biopsy. During that procedure, doctors insert a bone-biopsy needle through an ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.