Dr. Campbell: Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk for breast cancer

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Breast cancer is the leading cancer for women and its incidence has increased by more than 20 percent worldwide since 2008.

One in eight women develops breast cancer and prevention and early identification is critical to successfully treatment of breast cancer.

The Mediterranean diet—a diet rich in olive oil, fish, fruits and vegetables (along with red wine) has been shown in numerous studies to reduce the incidence of heart disease in several clinical trials.

It has been suggested that the Mediterranean diet, rich in plant foods, fish and olive oil, may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Now, a new study just released from Spain further supports this theory.

Many studies have been done examining the Mediterranean diet and its impact on health. The Lyon Diet Heart Study, the first clinical trial to demonstrate the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet in reducing heart disease, also found that the diet substantially lowered the risk of cancer generally by 61 percent.

The new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that the Mediterranean diet with olive oil reduced breast cancer risk by 62 percent.

In the diet, women were assigned randomly to groups—Mediterranean, low fat, etc. Each group had different doses of olive oil. The group with the highest olive oil intake seemed to derive the biggest benefit. However, the group with the biggest benefit obtained nearly 15 percent of daily calories from olive oil. That is a lot of olive oil consumption.

Results showed that women who took the Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil had a 62 percent relatively lower risk of malignant breast cancer. The risk reduction for the Mediterranean diet with nuts was “nonsignificant,” but the risk was still less than with the low-fat diet.

In the study, the research team calculated that for each additional 5 percent of calories that come from olive oil, women might reduce their odds of developing breast cancer by around 28 percent.

Overall, the results showed an inverse association between the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil and the incidence of breast cancer, suggesting that extra-virgin olive oil can help prevent breast cancer.

The mechanism of this reduction in cancer (and heart disease risk) is likely due to the reduction of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is associated with the development of cancer and heart disease.

Since there’s no downside to a Mediterranean diet, and it’s in line with everything else we know about nutrition, we highly recommend it. Eating veggies and healthy fats are good; sweets and processed foods are bad.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.


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