And yet, after spending $415 million trying to get nearly 20,000 mostly overweight postmenopausal women to radically change their eating habits in hopes of reducing cancer and heart disease, researchers are acknowledging less than spectacular results.
After an average of roughly eight years, there was little difference in rates of breast cancer, colorectal cancer and heart disease in women who reduced their fat consumption than among nearly 30,000 study participants who didn’t.
At the end of the day, we don’t want people to give up following a healthy diet, even if the results are a bit contradictory to what we’ve been practicing,” said Milton Stokes, a registered dietitian who also is a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.
“This study demonstrates that colorectal cancer does not care if you eat a low-fat diet of apples and broccoli. Protect yourself by getting screened,” said Nancy Roach, chairwoman of the board of directors and founder of the Colorectal Cancer Coalition.
The message we put out in our alert, and the key message to take away here is that telling yourself that you won’t get cancer because you eat healthy or your exercise or you never smoked is not enough. You have to get screened. The only way to prevent colon cancer is to find the polyp that is going to turn into colon cancer before it does. People who eat low-fat diets don’t do it for cancer prevention alone. Being healthy just feels better, whether you are at increased risk of cancer or not.