The DASH Diet and Lowering Cardiovascular Risk Post Breast Cancer Treatment

by Ella

A recent study published in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum highlights the significant role of diet in reducing cardiovascular disease risk among breast cancer survivors. Conducted by researchers who reviewed data from 3,415 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, the study examined the relationship between diet quality and cardiovascular events.

The participants, with an average age of 60, were diagnosed with cancer between 2005 and 2013 and monitored until 2021. The study utilized a scoring system based on five diet quality indices:


Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet


American Cancer Society’s nutrition guidelines for cancer prevention


Alternate Mediterranean dietary index


Healthy plant-based dietary index

The 2020 Healthy Eating Index from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

According to the findings, women whose diets closely adhered to the DASH diet at the time of breast cancer diagnosis had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. The DASH diet emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy, while limiting sodium, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Dr. Parvin Peddi, a medical oncologist, noted the study’s confirmation of the link between diet and cardiovascular disease risk, emphasizing the potential of dietary changes to mitigate such risks in breast cancer survivors.

Comparing women who followed the DASH diet to those who did not, the study found notable reductions in various cardiovascular risks, including:

47% lower risk of heart failure

23% lower risk of arrhythmia

23% lower risk of cardiac arrest

21% lower risk of valvular heart disease

25% lower risk of venous thromboembolic disease

Furthermore, higher consumption of low-fat dairy was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease-related death.

Dr. Bhavana Pathak, a hematologist and medical oncologist, praised the study’s comprehensive analysis of dietary indices and its examination of specific food types’ impact on disease risk.

The researchers also highlighted the influence of chemotherapy on the relationship between diet and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, women who received anthracycline chemotherapy and followed the DASH diet demonstrated a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who did not adhere to the diet.

Isaac Ergas, PhD, MPH, a staff scientist involved in the study, emphasized the importance of tailored dietary recommendations for breast cancer patients, advocating for evidence-based interventions such as the DASH diet to optimize cardiovascular health.

Despite the study’s encouraging findings, Dr. Peddi stressed the need for more discussions on cardiovascular risk among breast cancer survivors, given its status as the leading cause of non-cancer-related deaths in this population.

The study concluded that adopting diets aligned with healthy dietary patterns, particularly the DASH diet, could prove beneficial in preventing heart disease among breast cancer survivors. This underscores the significance of effective dietary interventions in promoting long-term cardiovascular health in this high-risk group.

Dr. Pathak highlighted the interconnectedness of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, advocating for a holistic approach to cancer care that addresses lifestyle factors and promotes overall well-being.

In summary, the study underscores the critical role of diet, particularly the DASH diet, in reducing cardiovascular risk among breast cancer survivors, emphasizing the importance of implementing dietary interventions to promote long-term cardiovascular health in this vulnerable population.



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