Saturated Fat, Trans-Fats, and Premature Death in Breast Cancer Survivors


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“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”



As I discuss in detail in my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” obesity and increased dietary fat intake have both been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer and other types of cancer.  Moreover, obesity and lack of exercise have also been clearly associated with an increased risk of recurrent breast cancer, and death due to breast cancer, among women who have previously been diagnosed with this common form of cancer.  However, the impact of diet, alone, on the risk of premature death among women previously diagnosed with breast cancer, has not been well studied.

However, a newly published clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Breast Cancer Research & Treatment, strongly suggests that unhealthy dietary habits may significantly increase the risk of death in women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In this prospectively conducted study, 4,441 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1987 and 1999 were followed for an average of 7 years, and were evaluated using a previously validated 126-item food frequency questionnaire that was administered immediately following the diagnosis of breast cancer.  The clinical outcomes of these 4,441 women were then adjusted for other known risk factors for breast cancer recurrence, including age at breast cancer diagnosis, menopausal status, smoking history, stage of breast cancer at diagnosis, alcohol intake history, prior use of hormone replacement therapy, obesity, and exercise history.  After these other known breast cancer recurrence factors were adjusted for, the impact of diet on death due to breast cancer recurrence, as well as death due to any cause, was then calculated.

When compared to women with the lowest average dietary intake of saturated fat, breast cancer survivors with the highest levels of intake of these unhealthy fats were 41 percent more likely to die from any cause during the course of this study.  Similarly, a high level of trans-fat intake was associated with a whopping 78 percent increase in the risk of death from any cause.  (While it failed to reach statistical significance in this relatively small prospective clinical study, an increased risk of death due to breast cancer recurrence was also associated with increasing levels of saturated fat and trans-fat intake, as well.)


In summary, this study of more than 4,000 breast cancer survivors revealed a striking increase in the risk of premature death among women who consumed large amounts of saturated fat and trans-fats in their diet.  Importantly, this increased risk of premature death was not limited to death caused by breast cancer recurrence, alone, but from multiple different causes of death.  Regarding the link between the intake of unhealthy fats and death due specifically to breast cancer recurrence, the same disturbing trend was observed, although this particular association did not quite reach accepted standards of statistical significance.  (A larger version of this study will, therefore, be necessary to tease out the relationship between unhealthy dietary fats and death due to breast cancer recurrence, specifically; although the findings of this relatively small prospective clinical study are suggestive that such a link likely exists.)


For a complete discussion of the impact of diet, including dietary fats, on cancer risk, and the role of diet and healthy fats in cancer prevention, as well as other important evidence-based approaches to cancer prevention, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!


On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books!  On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list! 

Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author

For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:   Texas Blues Jam

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


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