LONDON – A strict diet two days a week comprising only vegetables, fruits, milk and a salty beverage could prevent breast cancer.
Women who cut back to just 650 calories a day, twice a week, had significantly lower levels of cancer-causing hormones in their blood, according to a new study.
Researchers said women at high risk of breast cancer could be put on similar diets for the rest of their lives to try to prevent tumours.
The study examined 50 overweight women aged 30 to 45 years who were at a high genetic risk of developing breast cancer as either their mother or sister had suffered from the disease, the Daily Mail reported.
For two days each week, they were limited to eating just a third of the recommended 2,000 calorie daily intake for women, the International Journal of Obesity said.
This had to include four portions of vegetables, one piece of fruit, two pints of semi-skimmed milk or green tea, a diet soft drink or a salty beverage such as a cup of hot Bovril.
For the remainder of the week, they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, as long as they stuck to healthy food that was relatively low in fat.
After six months, scientists found that the women had far less leptin and insulin in their blood – hormones that can cause cancer.
Leptin fell by an average of 40 percent and insulin by an average of 25 percent.
The women also lost an average of 6.3 kg in weight and recorded a 15 percent drop in levels of the potentially harmful C-reactor protein, which is also known to increase the risk of breast cancer, in their blood.
Michelle Harvie, a dietician specialising in breast cancer, who led the study at the Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, said: “On the two-day diet you can restrict your calories far more than you would be able to if you were on a diet every single day.”