HealthWise at 5 From 2.21 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/21/06

HealthWise at 5 From 2.21

It is really getting confusing. The results of the last few studies on nutrition have left many people scratching their heads. To eat or not to eat. That is the question.

Let's look at the study about low fat diets. This study was part of a very large study called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). They asked the question, "What effect does a low fat diet have on a woman's risk of cancer and heart disease?"

The results after 8 years produced some very startling results. One group reduced their fat intake to 20% of their daily intake of calories. The other remained on a diet in which fat comprised 38% of daily calories. After 8 years, there were similar rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease in both groups.

This, of course, is only one study. But the large size of the study and its design make it credible. It is not, however, the last word according to the Harvard Health Letter.

Maybe the diet was not low enough in fat to produce benefits. The women in this study were all over 50. Would it have made a difference if they started at a younger age? The study also did not look at the differences between 'good' and 'bad' fats or may not have followed the women long enough.

And while many of the women in this study were overweight, none were asked to loose weight. Would that have made a difference? While not statistically significant, the women on the low fat diet appeared to have lower rates of breast cancer.

The best lesson from this study may be that one study does not a complete answer give. We are too quick to look at the results of one study and credit it with being the whole answer.

How then do we women stay healthy? Get regular mammograms. Don't smoke. Keep blood pressure and blood sugar within normal limits. Exercise. And, of course, eat all those fruits and vegetables. 

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