Research Activities, March 2014
Strategies for weight control among women at risk for or with breast cancer
Overweight and obese body mass indexes have been linked with increased risk of death from breast cancer and other types of cancer. Since weight is a modifiable risk factor for cancer, preventing weight gain could be an effective strategy to decrease the risk of malignancy in populations most at risk. A systematic review of strategies to prevent weight gain in individuals at risk of breast cancer or with breast cancer has determined that there were only two studies with effective interventional strategies for weight maintenance among over 27,000 studies considered for inclusion. This evidence was part of a larger systematic review of strategies to prevent weight gain in adults. Strategies that were effective included use of a low-fat diet in premenopausal women with a family history of breast cancer and group counseling on monitoring fat intake resulting in a low-fat diet in women with breast cancer.
The first study of 160 premenopausal women with a family history of breast cancer compared a control diet to three other diets: low-fat diet, a high fruit and vegetable diet, and a combination of low fat and high fruits and vegetables). Only women in the low-fat diet group lost weight. The second study focused on 2,437 women with breast cancer, randomized either to a non-specific counseling group or a group that received a combination of dietary counseling for a low-fat diet with self-management techniques, including goal setting, social support, and dietary relapse prevention and management.
After one year, the women in the low-fat dietary counseling group had lost weight compared to those in the non-specific counseling group. Also, women who had received low-fat dietary counseling had a 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer relapse and 29 percent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence than those who had received non-specific counseling, after 5 years of followup. The researchers did not determine whether weight gain prevention interventions also resulted in decreased cancer incidence or recurrence for other types of cancer. This systematic review was funded by AHRQ (Contract No. 290-06-10061).
See "Comparative effectiveness of strategies to prevent weight gain among women with and at risk for breast cancer: A systematic review," by Zoobia W. Chaudry, M.D., Rochelle V. Brown, M.D., Oluwakemi A. Fawole, M.P.H., and others in SpringerPlus 2, p. 277, 2013.