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Open Access Research article

Effect of dietary patterns differing in carbohydrate and fat content on blood lipid and glucose profiles based on weight-loss success of breast-cancer survivors

Henry J Thompson1*, Scot M Sedlacek12, Devchand Paul2, Pamela Wolfe3, John N McGinley1, Mary C Playdon1, Elizabeth A Daeninck1, Sara N Bartels1 and Mark R Wisthoff1

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Prevention Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

2 Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, Denver, CO 80218, USA

3 Colorado Biostatistics Consortium, University of Colorado, Denver, CO, USA

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Breast Cancer Research 2012, 14:R1  doi:10.1186/bcr3082

Published: 6 January 2012

Abstract

Introduction

Healthy body weight is an important factor for prevention of breast cancer recurrence. Yet, weight loss and weight gain are not currently included in clinical-practice guidelines for posttreatment of breast cancer. The work reported addresses one of the questions that must be considered in recommending weight loss to patients: does it matter what diet plan is used, a question of particular importance because breast cancer treatment can increase risk for cardiovascular disease.

Methods

Women who completed treatment for breast cancer were enrolled in a nonrandomized, controlled study investigating effects of weight loss achieved by using two dietary patterns at the extremes of macronutrient composition, although both diet arms were equivalent in protein: high fat, low carbohydrate versus low fat, high carbohydrate. A nonintervention group served as the control arm; women were assigned to intervention arms based on dietary preferences. During the 6-month weight-loss program, which was menu and recipe defined, participants had monthly clinical visits at which anthropometric data were collected and fasting blood was obtained for safety monitoring for plasma lipid profiles and fasting glucose. Results from 142 participants are reported.

Results

Adverse effects on fasting blood lipids or glucose were not observed in either dietary arm. A decrease in fasting glucose was observed with progressive weight loss and was greater in participants who lost more weight, but the effect was not statistically significant, even though it was observed across both diet groups (P = 0.21). Beneficial effects of weight loss on cholesterol (4.7%; P = 0.001), triglycerides (21.8%; P = 0.01), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (5.8%; P = 0.06) were observed in both groups. For cholesterol (P = 0.07) and LDL cholesterol (P = 0.13), greater reduction trends were seen on the low-fat diet pattern; whereas, for triglycerides (P = 0.01) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (P = 0.08), a decrease or increase, respectively, was greater on the low-carbohydrate diet pattern.

Conclusions

Because an individual's dietary preferences can affect dietary adherence and weight-loss success, the lack of evidence of a negative effect of dietary pattern on biomarkers associated with cardiovascular risk is an important consideration in the development of breast cancer practice guidelines for physicians who recommend that their patients lose weight. Whether dietary pattern affects biomarkers that predict long-term survival is a primary question in this ongoing clinical trial.