Evidence that a low‐fat diet reduces the occurrence of non‐melanoma skin cancer

Homer S. Black, John I. Thornby, John E. Wolf, Leonard Harry Goldberg, J. Alan Herd, Theodore Rosen, Suzanne Bruce, Jaime A. Tschen, Lynne W. Scott, Suzanne Jaax, John P. Foreyt, Brenda Reusser

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89 Scopus citations


The effect of a low-fat diet on occurrence of non-melanoma skin cancer was examined in a 2-year dietary intervention trial. A total of 101 skin-cancer patients were randomized either to a control group that consumed, on average, 38% of caloric intake as fat, and in which no changes in dietary habits were introduced, or to a low fat dietary-intervention group, in which patients were instructed to limit their calories from fat to 20% of total caloric intake, Patients were examined at 4-month intervals by dermatologists blinded to their dietary assignments. Nutrient analyses, conducted at each of the 4-month follow-up visits, indicated that the % calories of fat consumed in the intervention group had been reduced to 21% at 4 months and remained below this level throughout the 2-year period. There were no significant differences in total calories consumed, or in mean body weights, between the central and the intervention groups. Nor were there significant group differences in P/S ratios until month 24. Numbers of new skin cancers treated at each examination were analyzed in 8-month periods of the 2-year study. Comparisons of skin-cancer occurrences revealed no significant changes in the control group from baseline values. However, cancer occurrence in the low-fat intervention group declined after the first 8-month period and reached statistical significance by the last 8-month period. Patients in this group had significantly fewer cancers in the last 8-month period than did patients in the control group. In addition, there was a significant reduction in the number of patients developing skin cancer in the last 8-month period, as compared with the first 8-month period, within the low-fat intervention group. There were no significant changes in the control group. These data indicate that a low-fat diet can significantly reduce occurrence of a highly prevalent form of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 17 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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