Newsbriefs: Warfarin; Carbs; Breast Cancer Survival

Monitor Your Diet Carefully if You Take Warfarin

Poor knowledge of food interactions with the blood-thinning drug warfarin (Coumadin®) may increase the risk of serious side effects in people who take it, according to research presented at EuroHeartCare 2016, in April. Warfarin protects against stroke by decreasing the risk for blood clots due to mechanical heart valves, and conditions like the heart rhythm abnormality atrial fibrillation. The drug works by inhibiting the blood-clotting effect of vitamin K—but if you eat too many K-rich foods, warfarin may not work as effectively as it should. In the study, just 25 percent of the 404 participants correctly identified which foods can interfere with warfarin. If you take warfarin, stay safe by keeping your intake of vitamin K-rich foods (including cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower) consistent. Also keep in mind that other medications (like antibiotics), and herbal supplements also may interact with warfarin.

Steer Clear of “Bad” Carbs

A new study highlights one more reason to avoid sugary beverages, processed foods, and other energy-dense carbohydrate-containing foods: Cutting them may help reduce your risk of cancer. In the study, regular consumption of sugary beverages was associated with a three times greater risk for prostate cancer, and higher intake of processed lunch foods (like pizza, burgers, and meat sandwiches) doubled prostate cancer risk. By contrast, healthy carbohydrate-containing foods like legumes, non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains were collectively associated with a 67 percent lower risk for breast cancer. Among individual foods, legumes (beans, lentils, peas) were associated with 32 percent lower risk of all overweight- and obesity-related cancers, including breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. The study was presented at the 2016 American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions.

Low-fat Diet May Improve Breast Cancer Survival

Following a low-fat diet may help with weight management and lowering your risks of developing heart disease and diabetes. But recent research also suggests that a low-fat diet may also improve your survival odds after a breast cancer diagnosis.

In a study presented at the 2016 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers found that in the decade following a breast cancer diagnosis, 82 percent of the women who ate a low-fat diet were still alive. Nearly 78 percent of women eating a higher fat diet survived. The research is based on Women’s Health Initiative data.

Researchers suggested that one possible reason for the slightly higher survival rate could be related to fewer deaths from heart disease among the women following a low-fat diet.

The relationship between a low-fat diet and cancer survival also may be related to the connection between weight and breast cancer. Post-menopausal women who are overweight are at higher risk for getting breast cancer. It’s believed that because fat cells produce estrogen, being overweight is a risk factor for cancer. Higher levels of circulating estrogen may enhance the spread of cancer cells. 

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