Study: Diet Doesn’t Boost Breast Cancer Survival
A diet that surpasses government recommendations for daily servings of fruits and vegetables does not boost breast cancer survival rates in women, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Chicago Tribune reports (Peres, Chicago Tribune, 7/18).
For the study, researchers tracked 3,088 women who had been treated successfully for early stage breast cancer. Women enrolled in the study between 1995 and 2000 and were tracked for six to 11 years (Reuters/Washington Times, 7/18).
Participants were split into two groups: a control group that followed federal nutrition guidelines and a group that was instructed to consume nearly twice as much produce -- eight servings of fruits and vegetables, plus 16 ounces of fresh vegetable juice -- as the government recommends per day (Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).
Participants in the group consuming extra fruits and vegetables were permitted to eat meat but were instructed to consume no more than 20% of total calories from fat, a goal which they ultimately were unable to accomplish (AP/Detroit Free Press, 7/18).
Over the course of the study, 17% of women in both groups had a recurrence of breast cancer, while 10% in both groups died, 80% of them from breast cancer (Reuters/Washington Times, 7/18).
A subanalysis of the study found that women who consumed five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and exercised by walking 30 minutes daily five times per week showed the best response.
The National Cancer Institute contributed $30 million toward the study, and Wal-Mart heir John Walton contributed $5 million (McClain, Arizona Daily Star, 7/18).
John Pierce, head of cancer prevention at the University of California-San Diego and lead study author, said that he and fellow study author Lovell Jones, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, would continue to analyze the study results to see whether certain groups -- such as black women, those with certain genetic profiles and post-menopausal women -- benefit from additional servings of fruits and vegetables.
Pierce said, "I went into the study expecting to see a difference between the two groups. I don't think anyone expected a washout like this" (Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, 7/18). An abstract of the study is available online. ABC News reported on the study (ABC News Web site, 7/17). Video of the segment and expanded coverage are available online. NBC's "Nightly News" on Tuesday also reported on the study. The segment includes comments from Rachel Zinaman, a dietician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Pierce; and patients (Bazell, "Nightly News," NBC, 7/17). Video of the segment and additional NBC News resources are available online.
In related news, another study published in JAMA on Wednesday found that high-resolution CT heart scans might boost young women's risk of developing cancer, USA Today reports.
High-resolution scans known as 64-slice CT scans were approved by FDA in 2004 (Sternberg, USA Today, 7/18). The scans, which are designed to help rule out heart disease, give 20 times the amount of radiation as a mammogram.
For the study, researchers estimated the radiation dose to each organ from the machine. They then used statistical analysis to estimate the risk of cancer to each organ based on age and sex (Mishra, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).
The researchers found that one of every 143 women who are scanned once at age 20 will get cancer, typically of the breast -- a rate that is 23 times higher than the one-in-3,261 chance of developing cancer for an 80-year-old man.
The study found that the risk decreases to one-in-284 for 40-year-old women. Men at age 40 have a one-in-1,241 risk of developing lung cancer from a high-resolution CT scan, the study found. Experts say that the findings should not discourage people from getting the scans but should dissuade people from getting the scans without first seeking medical advice from a doctor (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18). Lead author Andrew Einstein of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons said, "The magnitude of this risk is something we hadn't appreciated," adding, "If you look at older men, the risk is very small, but for a woman younger than 40 or 50, I'm going to be hesitant (to use it)" (USA Today, 7/18). An abstract of the study is available online.