Background: Low fat, high fiber dietary interventions that decrease blood estrogen levels may reduce breast cancer risk. Asian women consuming their traditional low fat, high fiber diets have lower blood estrogen levels before and after menopause and lower rates of breast cancer compared with Western women. The current controlled feeding study of premenopausal women was designed to determine the effects of a very low fat (10% of calories) and high fiber (35-45 g/day) diet on blood estrogen levels and menstrual function.
Method: Twelve healthy premenopausal women with regular ovulatory cycles were followed for 3 months. Subjects consumed a diet providing 30% of their energy from fat and 15-25 g of dietary fiber per day for 1 month, and they consumed a very low fat, high fiber and libitum diet providing 10% of their energy from fat and 25-35 g of dietary fiber per day for 2 months.
Results: At the end of the second month of the very low fat, high fiber diet, there was a significant reduction in serum estrone and estradiol levels during the early follicular and late luteal phases. There were no significant changes observed in serum estrone sulfate, sex hormone binding globulin, or progesterone. Despite a significant decrease in serum estradiol and estrone levels after 2 months of a very low fat, high fiber diet, there was no interference with ovulation or the magnitude of the mid-cycle leuteinizing hormone surge. Small changes in menstrual cycle length of up to 3 days were not ruled out due to the small sample size of the study.
Conclusions: A very low fat, high fiber diet in healthy premenopausal women can reduce estradiol and estrone levels without affecting ovulation, thereby providing a rationale for the prevention of breast cancer through a very low fat, high fiber diet.