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Effect of Diet Strategies on Weight Loss & Breast Cancer Risk

Posted Jun 01 2010 6:45am
Diet strategies can vary widely; however, the effect of different diet strategies on weight loss and chronic health conditions are relatively unknown.  Most common diet strategies involve continuous energy restriction, meaning that we consume fewer calories on a daily basis for an extended period of time.  Another diet strategy, intermittent energy restriction, is a relatively new strategy where caloric intake is severely restricted for 1 or 2 days per week in general.  The potential benefits of this type of diet program are currently under investigation by a number of research groups.

One new research study examined the effectiveness of an intermittent energy restriction diet program on weight loss and breast cancer risk markers.  For this breast cancer study, 107 overweight/obese women were asked to follow a diet that restricted their caloric intake by 25% for 6 months.  Energy restriction was either continuous (about 1,500 Calories/day for 7 days/week) or intermittent (about 540 Calories/day for just 2 days/week).  Changes in body weight, blood markers for breast cancer risk, and markers for other metabolic diseases were measured at the beginning of the study and after 3 and 6 months in both groups of women.  The results of this study showed that
  • Weight loss after 6 months was similar in both groups (about 14 lbs in the intermittent calorie restriction group and about 12 lbs in the continuous calorie restriction group).
  • Improvements in disease markers, including breast cancer risk factors, were similar in both diet program groups.
  • Intermittent calorie restriction showed better improvement in regards to insulin resistance compared to continuous calorie restriction.
Overall, these new study results showed some positive benefits.  One of the most important aspects of this study is that it suggests that weight loss, whether by following a continous or intermittent diet program, might reduce breast cancer risk factors. Additionally, both diet programs allowed the study volunteers to successfully lose weight and improve their overall health profile.  One of the concepts that appears to be behind the idea of intermittent calorie restriction diet programs is that continuous calorie restriction is difficult for many individuals to follow on a long-term basis.  However, a potential draw back to intermittent calorie restriction diet plans is that it might be more difficult to develop healthier eating habits.  While the long-term success of intermittent calorie restriction diet programs and their potential health benefits will require further research, intermittent calorie restriction might prove to be a viable alternative weight loss program, particularly for individuals have difficulty sticking to a continuous calorie restriction program.

To learn more about the importance of healthy eating and maintaining a healthy body weight on breast cancer risk, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cance r.
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