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Study Highlights Link Between Healthy Diet After Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Reduced Cardiovascular Disease Risk

A recent study published in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum sheds light on the significant impact of adopting a healthy diet following a breast cancer diagnosis in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study, which analyzed data from 3,415 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, focused on the association between diet quality and cardiovascular events. Participants, with an average age of 60, were diagnosed between 2005 and 2013 and followed through 2021.

Researchers utilized five diet quality indices to assess participants' dietary habits, including the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and nutrition guidelines for cancer prevention from various organizations.

Results indicated that women adhering closely to the DASH diet at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis experienced a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy while limiting sodium, red meat, processed meat, and sugary beverages.

Dr. Parvin Peddi, a medical oncologist not involved in the research, noted the unsurprising correlation between diet and cardiovascular disease risk, emphasizing the potential for diet changes to mitigate this risk, particularly among breast cancer survivors.

Furthermore, the study revealed specific benefits associated with the DASH diet, including a reduced risk of heart failure, arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, valvular heart disease, and venous thromboembolic disease.

Dr. Bhavana Pathak, a hematologist and medical oncologist, highlighted the significance of the study's findings and the role of dietary indices in promoting cardiovascular health among breast cancer survivors. She emphasized the importance of incorporating aspects of the Mediterranean diet into one's dietary habits.

The study also explored the influence of chemotherapy on the relationship between diet and cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, women who received anthracycline chemotherapy and adhered to the DASH diet demonstrated a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who did not follow the diet.

Dr. Isaac Ergas, one of the study authors, stressed the importance of educating patients about the benefits of healthy food choices and providing ongoing support to promote optimal cardiovascular health.

Despite the challenges in teasing out the specific reasons for the increased cardiovascular disease risk among breast cancer survivors, the researchers underscored the need for comprehensive dietary interventions to mitigate this risk effectively.

In conclusion, the study underscores the critical role of diet in reducing cardiovascular disease risk among breast cancer survivors and highlights the DASH diet as a particularly effective dietary intervention. By adopting healthy dietary patterns, individuals can take proactive steps toward long-term cardiovascular health, especially in high-risk populations such as breast cancer survivors.

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