Changes in Dietary Inflammatory Index Patterns with Weight Loss in Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2021 Jan;14(1):85-94. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0181. Epub 2020 Aug 28.


Dietary composition can influence systemic inflammation; higher levels of circulating inflammatory biomarkers are associated with increased risk of breast and other cancers. A total of 438 overweight/obese, healthy, postmenopausal women were randomized to a caloric-restriction diet (goal: 10% weight-loss), aerobic-exercise (225 min/week moderate-to-vigorous activity), combined diet+exercise, or control. Dietary inflammatory index (DII) and energy-adjusted (E-DII) scores were derived from food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) and could be calculated for 365 participants with complete FFQs at baseline and 12 months. Changes from baseline to 12 months in E-DII scores in the intervention arms versus controls were analyzed using generalized estimating equations, adjusted for confounders. We examined associations between changes in previously measured biomarkers and E-DII at 12 months. Participants randomized to diet and diet+exercise arms had greater reductions in E-DII (-104.4% and -84.4%), versus controls (-34.8%, both P < 0.001). Weight change had a more marked effect than E-DII change on biomarkers at 12-months; associations between E-DII and biomarker changes were reduced after adjustment by weight change. Changes in E-DII at 12 months, adjusted for weight change, were negatively associated with changes in ghrelin [r = -0.19; P = 0.05 (diet), r = -0.29; P = 0.02 (diet+exercise)], and positively with VEGF [r = 0.22; P = 0.03 (diet+exercise)], and red blood cell counts [r = 0.30; P = 0.004 (exercise)]. C-reactive protein (CRP) and IL6 levels were not associated with E-DII changes at 12 months. In conclusion, a behavior change of low-calorie, low-fat diet significantly reduces dietary inflammatory potential, modulating biomarkers that are associated with tumorigenesis, such as VEGF, but not CRP or IL6. PREVENTION RELEVANCE: Diets high in saturated fats and low in fruit and vegetable intake are associated with increased inflammation, which increases cancer risk. This study showed that changes in diet quality had effects on factors associated with cancer; however, the majority of beneficial effects were associated with weight loss rather than diet quality.

Trial registration: NCT00470119.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Carcinogenesis / immunology
  • Diet Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / diagnosis
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / immunology
  • Overweight / metabolism
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Postmenopause / immunology
  • Weight Loss / immunology*

Associated data