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Studies Show That Heart Disease Risk Is Lowered In Breast Cancer Survivors Who Follow A Healthy Diet



The leading cause of death for women with breast cancer that is not connected to the disease is cardiovascular disease. The number of American women who have survived breast cancer exceeds 3.8 million. Comparing these women to those who have not had breast cancer, they are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease.

This is probably caused by the cardiotoxic effects of breast cancer treatments as well as common risk factors including aging, smoking, and lack of exercise that are linked to cardiovascular disease as well as breast cancer. There is little dietary advice available for people who have survived breast cancer, and it has mostly relied on research on cancer prevention until recently.

Researchers examined correlations between cardiovascular-related events and nutrition quality using data from the Pathways Study, a prospective cohort study of women with invasive breast cancer. 3,415 women who received an invasive breast cancer diagnosis at Kaiser Permanente Northern California between 2005 and 2013 and were followed up with until 2021 were included in the analysis.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which was created in the 1990s to control and treat hypertension, served as the basis for the grading system that researchers used to evaluate the quality of the diet. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy are the mainstays of the diet. It also restricts red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sodium.

The diet is comparable to that suggested by the American Cancer Society, with the exception that low-fat dairy and nuts are encouraged to be consumed, while sodium is discouraged. The 2020 Healthy Eating Index, the alternative Mediterranean diet, a plant-based diet, and heart health in relation to these two diets were all assessed in this study.

Women whose diets were closest to DASH when they were diagnosed with breast cancer were found to have a reduced risk of heart failure, arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, valvular heart disease, and venous thromboembolic disease by 47%, 23%, and 25%, respectively, compared to women whose diets were least similar to DASH.

After controlling for all other food groups, the researchers discovered that increased consumption of low-fat dairy lowered the risk for death from cardiovascular disease. Additionally, they discovered that a woman’s type of chemotherapy treatment appeared to have an impact on the association between DASH and cardiovascular disease.

Among women on other types of chemotherapy regimens, this relationship was not evident. However, women whose treatment included an anthracycline and whose diets closely matched the diet had a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease than women least aligned with DASH.

“Our results indicate that we should start discussing the possible heart benefits of the DASH diet with individuals who have survived breast cancer,” stated Isaac J. Ergas, Ph.D., the primary author of the research and staff scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “We know that breast cancer survivors have an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, and the diet might be able to help improve the overall health of this population.”


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