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Surviving on low-fat diet? It doesn't help

Just switching to low-fat foods is not likely to yield much health benefit in most women, says a study.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 21:26 IST

It turns out that all the suffering and privation could have been in vain.

A major new health study released here today showed that older women, who have forsworn juicy steaks in favour of lettuce leaves in hopes of avoiding cancer, heart disease or stroke, have precious little to show for their sacrifice.

"Just switching to low-fat foods is not likely to yield much health benefit in most women," said Marcia Stefanick, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Centre, who participated in the study being published in the February 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The iconoclastic report, which appears to debunk most popular dieting theories, says that following an eating pattern lower in total fat did not significantly reduce the incidence of breast cancer, heart disease or stroke -- and did not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in healthy postmenopausal women. True, the 48,835 women aged 50-79, who reduced their total fat intake, had a nine per cent lower risk of breast cancer than did women who made no dietary changes, scientists said.

But the difference was not large enough to be statistically significant, which means it could have been due to chance, concluded the researchers, whose work on the subject spanned an eight-year period in the 1990s.

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 15:58 IST