New Diet Method May Prevent Breast Cancer: Intermittent Low-Carbohydrate Diet


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Diet and Breast Cancer Prevention

New Diet Method… Continued

Breast Cancer Diet: Design of the First Study

Approximately 100 pre-menopausal women, with similar ages and weights, and no significant health problems, participated in the study. The diet consisted of a 25% calorie reduction for each group over a period of six months.

  • One group was restricted to 1,494.29 calories per day.
  • One group was allowed to eat normally for five days a week, but restricted to 650 calories on two days each week.

When Decoded Science asked how she controlled the subjects’ compliance with the diet, Harvie said:

  • All subjects were seen by a dietitian and given their diet plan and were rung biweekly and seen once month & were given comprehensive diet plans/ recipes. 
  • We assessed compliance from diet records the patients kept and from weight loss. 
  • Our subjects were very motivated as they were at increased risk of breast cancer

Study Results

  1. All subjects experienced a greater than five percent loss of total body weight.
  2. Both groups had improved cardiovascular health, with decreased LDL (harmful) cholesterol, lower triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure.
  3. Both groups experienced a reduction in risk factors for breast cancer, including decreased insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, lower levels of leptin, and reduced levels of sex steroids.

Surprising Results for Intermittent Diet Group

Were there any advantages for the women who participated in the first  intermittent diet? Surprisingly, there were three:

  1. Adiponectin levels: A small increase in adiponectin, a protein hormone, was significant because the hormone is pivotal in numerous metabolic functions, insulin sensitivity and the development of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  2. Menstrual cycle: The intermittent diet group experienced significantly longer menstrual cycles, which is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
  3. Increased anti-oxidant levels: cellular resistance to oxidative stress increased. It is possible that the sudden drop in calories on strict diet days triggered “cellular protection” in the form of restorative proteins and antioxidant enzymes.

The Intermittent Diet: Potential for Prevention of Breast Cancer

The results of the first study spurred Harvie on to the soon-to-be-published study announced at the symposium in San Antonio. The intermittent diet shows promise in the prevention of breast cancer. If the diet proves to be more effective than traditional dieting, it may dramatically change the course of efforts to reverse the rising tide of obesity.


AACR. Intermittent, Low-Carbohydrate Diets More Successful Than Standard Dieting, Present Possible Intervention for Breast Cancer Prevention. (2011). 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Accessed December 31, 2011.

Harvie, M. N., Pegington M., Mattson, M. P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., Cuzick, J., Jebb, S. A., Martin, B., Cutler, R. G., Son, T. G., Maudsley, S., Carlson, O. D., Egan, J. M., Flyvbjerg, A., Howell, A. The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity (May 2011) 35, 714-727. Macmillan Publishers Limited. Accessed December 31, 2011.

National Academies for Science, Institute of Medicine. Breast Cancer and the Environment. Accessed December 31, 2011.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. How Does your Body Weight Affect Breast Cancer Risk? Accessed December 31, 2011.

Roush, K. Menopausal Hormone Therapy: What We Know Now.  American Journal of Nursing (June 2011) 6: III  38-47.  Accessed December 31, 2011.

Pierce J.P., Natarajan L., Caan B.J., Parker B.A., Greenberg E.R., Flatt S.W., Rock C.L., Kealey S., Al-Delaimy W.K., Bardwell W.A., Carlson R., Emond J.A., Faerber S., Gold E.B., Hajek R.A., Hollenbach K., Jones L.A., Karanja N., Madlensky L., Marshall J., Newman V.A., Ritenbaugh C., Thomson C.A., Wasserman L., Stefanick M.L. The influence of a very high vegetable-fruit-fiber, low-fat diet on prognosis following treatment for breast cancer. The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association (2007) 98:289-298.  Accessed December 31, 2011.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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