Diet and lifestyle is a key area of research at Prevent Breast Cancer and this week saw one of our latest research studies within that field capture the attention of the media. The study, led by our research dietitian, Dr Michelle Harvie, was the first of its kind and revealed that following The 2-Day Diet – which involves following a low-calorie diet for two days per week – could lead to cancer-preventing changes in the breast tissue.
Published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, the study, entitled Breast Risk Reduction Intermittent Diet Evaluation (BRRIDE), saw overweight, pre-menopausal women at high risk of breast cancer follow The 2-Day Diet for one month. Our researchers took breast biopsies on 20 women before and after the four-week trial, 55 per cent of whom were found to experience changes in their breast cells. Such changes involve the production of proteins that are known to make the cells more stable and less likely to become damaged, meaning the risk of developing breast cancer is reduced.
The 2-Day Diet was originally developed by Dr Harvie together with our scientific director, Professor Tony Howell, and features two days on a low-carb, low-calorie diet, with the remaining five days being spent on a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet.
While the study involved a relatively small sample size, it was extremely controlled and the results are exciting because until now, we didn’t know what effect, if any, an intermittent diet might have on the breast itself. Further research will be required to fully understand how the diet could prevent breast cancer, but these initial findings indicate that following such a plan could have a potentially life-saving effect.
Another related story to hit the papers this week highlighted a study review by Harvard University, which found that eating 30g of wholegrains a day could lower the risk of dying from cancer by around 11 per cent. While this doesn’t refer specifically to breast cancer, other studies have reported reduced breast cancer occurrence in those who eat wholegrain foods and have a high fibre intake. This provides further evidence that high-fibre carbohydrates – such as wholemeal bread, porridge oats and bulgur wheat – are an important part of a healthy diet, and suggests that following low-carb diets every day is not likely to be beneficial to health.
As such, Prevent Breast Cancer recommends following The 2-Day Diet, which includes plenty of wholegrains and is the most effective method for losing weight and keeping it off.
For more information about our diet and lifestyle research projects, click here.