Research Projects - Prevent Breast Cancer

Current evidence suggests that being overweight, inactive and regularly having a high alcohol intake may all contribute to breast cancer. The precise amount of breast cancer due to these factors is still being debated but is said to account for between 17 and 40% of all breast cancer cases in the UK today.

We were one of the first groups to demonstrate that weight loss can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Our research has shown that two days per week of a low calorie and low carbohydrate diet (650 to 700 calories) can be the same, or more effective, than the standard daily calorie controlled diet approach. The initial randomised evaluation of The 2-Day Diet versus the normal approach of daily dieting (DER) showed 2 day dieting was as easy as / slightly easier to follow than daily dieting. It also led to some other interesting findings as you can see below.

Our New Study – BRRIDE 2

We will be looking at how best to reduce an individual’s fat stores in and around the liver as fats here are found to contribute to insulin resistance and therefore breast cancer risk. We will be comparing The 2-Day Diet with daily dieting (DER) and assessing the difference on each individual. We hypothesise that these greater reductions in insulin resistance is due to reductions in hepatic fat and we will be comparing the two diets and the body composition results to confirm this finding. The study will involve 26 obese women, 13 taking part in the 2 day diet and 13, the DER diet.


The study will run for 8 weeks and differences in biochemistry will be compared throughout the study and at the end. Interested participants (both in the 2 day and DER group) will be asked to maintain their current dietary intake and activity levels and record it in a 7 day diary.

They will then attend an appointment for an MRI scan to view liver fat deposits and Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) which will take measurements of insulin and glucose. Blood will also be taken to check for biochemical markers for breast cancer risk. All this data will give baseline information about the individual.

Following this visit and within a week, they will meet with our research dietician. The dietician will phone them in weeks 3, 5 and 7 for a 20 minute conversation to discuss adherence and any problems with the diet. Participants will visit the centre in week 2, 4 and 6 for a face-to-face review and weigh in.

In week 7 all participants will have an MRI scan and their OGTT and blood measurements taken. Participants from the IER group will attend in the morning after their 48-hour fast.

All participants will attend for a final MRI in week 8. This test will be 4 days after the IER participants’ fast days to see how they body reacts during their normal eating days. They will also be asked to keep another 7 day food diary and fill in an activity questionnaire.

Both groups will receive comprehensive written instructions of how to follow the diets at home, including recommended portion sizes and recipes and suggested meal plans. Both groups will receive appropriate behavioural techniques to promote adherence to the diets such as self-monitoring and goal setting.


This study is an exciting addition to the studies already being carried out by Prevent Breast Cancer as it will look at many biological factors that can contribute to breast cancer risk and, thanks to joint funding from Pancreatic Cancer UK, will also look at how diet and lifestyle can affect overall cancer risk as well as breast cancer risk.

The primary outcomes that will be measured are:

  • Hepatic Fat Fraction – the percentage of fat present in the liver
  • Lipid Types – fats identified in the bloodstream
  • Insulin Resistance – when cells fail to respond to the hormone, insulin
  • Glucose Measurements – glucose levels in the blood
  • C-Peptide Measurements – the connecting protein between insulin

As well as this we will also evaluate changes in

  • Body Mass Composition – fat to muscle to water ratio
  • Pancreatic Fat Fraction – percentage of fat present in the pancreas
  • Resting Energy Expenditure – the amount of energy the body needs in 24 hours while resting

If we can confirm further benefits of The 2-Day Diet, this would confirm the effectiveness of the diet as well as it’s need, not just for people at greater risk of developing breast cancer, but for many cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.