Given that breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women today, researchers are constantly trying to find ways to reduce a woman’s risk.
CBS news reports on how a Mediterranean diet can help. Mediterranean diets have been associated with promoting heart health & now it is also connected to deterring breast cancer.
Researchers conducted a new study where they found that women who were asked to follow a Mediterranean diet that was high in extra virgin olive oil were almost 70 percent less likely to develop breast cancer (in comparison with those who were not on the diet).
How was the study conducted?
There were 4,152 post-menopausal women who had never had breast cancer participating in the study. They were asked to follow one of three diets: one was a Mediterranean diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil (extra-virgin olive oil accounted for 15 percent of their daily calories), the second was a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts, and the third was a control diet, in which the women were advised to reduce the amount of fat they ate. Researchers followed up and after five years, 35 women in the study had developed breast cancer.
The women who were in the extra-virgin olive oil group of the study were the least likely to develop breast cancer. The researchers also found a small decrease in threat for the women in the nut group, according to the study, which was published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Navarra in Spain and co-author of the study, told Live Science, “The Mediterranean diet contains many components that have been suggested to have anti-tumor effects. Extra-virgin olive oil in particular is rich in compounds called polyphenols, which have been shown in lab studies to have anti-cancer effects.”
What kinds of foods does the Mediterranean diet include?
It is generally rich in plants, fish and olive oil, and low in meat and dairy products, has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer, according to the study.
Many other studies have also shown a decreased threat of breast cancer in women who eat a Mediterranean diet.
Dr. Mitchell Katz, a deputy editor of JAMA and the author of an editorial about the study, told Live Science, “A strength of the new study is that unlike those previous studies, in which women were asked to report what foods they ate, women in the new study were randomized to a specific diet, which eliminates certain factors that can influence the results.”
Next researchers plan to do larger studies where the Mediterranean diet is not so common.