December 10, 2011

A Low Carb Diet May Reduce Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Just when you thought the Atkins diet was a thing of the past, a periodic, low-carbohydrate diet was found superior to a standard, daily calorie-restricted diet for reducing weight and lowering blood levels of insulin, a cancer-promoting hormone.

Researchers at Genesis Prevention Center at University Hospital in South Manchester, England, found that restricting carbohydrates two days per week may be a better dietary approach than a standard, daily calorie-restricted diet for preventing breast cancer and other diseases, but they said further study is needed.

"Weight loss and reduced insulin levels are required for breast cancer prevention, but [these levels] are difficult to achieve and maintain with conventional dietary approaches," Michelle Harvie, Ph.D., SRD, a research dietician at the Genesis Prevention Center was quoted as saying.

Harvie and her colleagues compared three diets during four months for effects on weight loss and blood markers of breast cancer risk among 115 women with a family history of breast cancer. Researchers randomly assigned patients to one of the following diets: a calorie-restricted, low-carbohydrate diet for two days per week; an ad lib, eater's choice, low-carbohydrate diet in which patients were permitted to eat unlimited protein and healthy fats, such as lean meats, olives and nuts, also for two days per week; and a standard, calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet for seven days per week.

Data revealed that both intermittent, low-carbohydrate diets were superior to the standard, daily Mediterranean diet in reducing weight, body fat and insulin resistance. The average weight and body fat loss was about nine pounds with the intermittent approaches compared with about five pounds with the standard dietary approach. Insulin resistance reduced by 22 percent with the restricted low-carbohydrate diet and by 14 percent with the ad lib low-carbohydrate diet compared with four percent with the standard Mediterranean diet.

"It is interesting that the diet that only restricts carbohydrates but allows protein and fats is as effective as the calorie-restricted, low-carbohydrate diet," Harvie was quoted as saying.

Harvie and her colleagues plan to further study carbohydrate intake and breast cancer.

SOURCE: (American Association for Cancer Research, December 8, 2011)