The time of menopause completely changes the female body. And at the end of menopause, alongside many other challenges, the question arises: Does my body really need a different diet, a special diet? A new study now provides answers.
A woman’s body has to get used to many changes after the menopause. The ovaries have slowly stopped producing sex hormones (estrogens and gestagens), and women become sterile. However, the consequences are even more far-reaching: the lack of estrogen influence means that blood vessels are no longer protected against clogging of the arteries, and the risk of stroke and heart attack increases. Statistically speaking, the risk of breast cancer also increases.
It was precisely these physical changes in postmenopausal women that interested scientists at the Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, and their colleagues from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). To find out if a specific diet could minimize these risks, they put one group of women on a high-fat diet and another group on a low-fat diet. The test subjects had already passed their menopause. The special thing about the study was the long period of almost 20 years, as reported by “medicalnewstoday.com”.
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High-fat and low-fat diets previously tested in mice and rats
The research team used older studies in their investigations that had already shown in rats and mice that rodents on a low-fat diet develop fewer tumors than those on a high-fat diet. Some of these studies also referred to breast cancer. It has recently been shown that with this type of cancer in particular, following a diet plan can prolong the life of women.
Inspired by these results, the team around Dr. Ross Prentice, of the Cancer Prevention and Biostatistics program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, is now working with colleagues at WHI to investigate the benefits of a low-fat diet for postmenopausal women.
In particular, scientists followed nearly 50,000 postmenopausal women over two decades to determine the effects of a low-fat diet on breast cancer, colon cancer, and risk for heart disease. Prentice and its staff have published their findings in the Journal of Nutrition.
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Study duration of almost 20 years
It started in the 1990s with almost 49,000 women: 40 percent of them were prescribed a low-fat diet, and they were supposed to consume a higher proportion of fruit, vegetables and grains. The other 60 percent were allowed to follow their usual, high-fat diet.
However, after 8.5 years of observation, the analysis did not reveal any particular differences between the two groups. Only after an even longer follow-up period did the scientists discover the great advantage of this diet.
In women who had developed breast cancer and who had a low-fat diet high in fruits, vegetables, and grains, the death rate fell by 15 to 35 percent. In addition, women in this group developed a 13 to 25 percent lower chance of developing diabetes or coronary artery disease (15 to 30 percent).
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Health benefits from fruits, vegetables and grains
This study on dietary changes provides many women with important insights into disease prevention, says Dr. Ross Prentice according to “medicalnewstoday.com”. “The latest results substantiate the role of diet in overall health and show that low-fat diets high in fruits, vegetables, and grains have health benefits with no adverse effects observed.”
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