New Research Shows Plant-Based Diet Can Reduce Cancer Risk For Women
Updated July 16th 2022
A growing body of research suggests that consuming a plant-based diet – such as The Mediterranean Diet – can reduce your risk of breast cancer. A recent study has shown that eating mostly fruits and vegetables can help protect against certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.
Why A Quality Diet Is Important In The Prevention Of Breast Cancer
A new study, from the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at Paris-Saclay University in France, presents evidence that the foods we eat can affect how likely we are to develop cancer. The research suggests that the quality or general healthiness of a person’s food may be crucial.
The study, based on data from over 65,000 postmenopausal women who were tracked for more than two decades, found that a healthy plant-based diet was linked with a 14% lower risk of breast cancer while an unhealthy plant-based diet was linked with a 20% higher risk of breast cancer. The findings were consistent across all breast cancer subtypes.
“These findings highlight that increasing the consumption of healthy plant foods and decreasing the consumption of less healthy plant foods and animal foods might help prevent all types of breast cancer,” said Sanam Shah, a doctoral candidate in the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at Paris-Saclay University, Inserm, Gustave Roussy, France, the study’s lead author. Shah presented the findings at NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE, the flagship annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition that was held from June 14th to 16th.
“What is different about our study is that we could disentangle the effects of the quality of plant foods, which has not been the focus of previous studies on other dietary patterns,” said Shah. “By scoring healthy, unhealthy, and animal-based foods, we comprehensively analyzed food intake by considering the ‘healthiness’ of food groups.”
Plant-based Foods, Including Extra Virgin Olive Oil Or Animal-Based Foods?
The researchers analyzed data from 65,574 postmenopausal women living in France who filled out dietary intake questionnaires in 1993 and 2005 and were followed for an average of 21 years. Over the course of the study, 3,968 study participants were diagnosed with breast cancer. Comparing breast cancer rates among women with different dietary quality revealed significant differences in cancer risk among those with healthy and unhealthy diets.
The researchers used 18 food groups to categorize the degree to which participants adhered to a plant-based versus animal-based diet and ate healthy versus less healthy foods. Shah noted that a plant-based diet does not equate to a vegan or vegetarian diet, but rather describes a general emphasis on plant-based foods over animal-based foods.
While the findings suggest that choosing healthy plant-based foods is likely helpful for cancer prevention, Shah noted that more research is needed to assess the connections between diet and cancer risk in diverse populations, in particular, to determine causality.
Can The Best Olive Oil Help Reduce Risks Associated With Some Cancers?
Olive oil is a popular addition to many Mediterranean-style diets. Some people believe that extra virgin olive oil can reduce cancer risk. But does the science support this claim? Recent studies provide some evidence that this may be the case.
Women who consume foods that fall more into the Mediterranean category can decrease their chances of being diagnosed with the disease [breast cancer] by as much as 44%.TheList.com
You know how olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet? Well, virgin olive oil has compounds in it that help to kill certain kinds of breast cancer cells, according to WebMD. Seems like you can enjoy a Mediterranean diet without one ounce of guilt — so make sure that you do!
Interestingly, many of the other foods listed in this top ten, for example berries, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds are also a key element of the Mediterranean Diet.
Effect of Polyphenols In Olive Oil On Cancer Cells
In a study carried out by Dr Javier Menendez and colleagues from the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain to investigated the effects of extra virgin olive on breast cancer cells grown in laboratory cultures, it was shown that the substances in extra virgin olive oil work in a similar way to the drug Herceptin by reducing the concentration of HER2 protein that helps HER2-positive breast cancer to grow.
Using a method called solid phase extraction, researchers extracted the polyphenols from commercially available extra virgin olive oil. These were then added to the growth medium for HER2-positive and HER2-negative breast cancers to see what effect they had on the tumour cells.
They found that the polyphenols from the extra virgin olive oil reduced the levels of HER2 protein and also increased tumour cell death. HER2 is a protein found on the surface of some cancer cells. This protein can bind to another molecule (known as human epidermal growth factor), which then encourages the growth and division of the tumour cells. Not all have the HER2 protein on their surface; it is estimated that one in five women with breast cancer will have HER2 receptors.
Several laboratory tests were then carried out to determine how fast the tumour cells were growing, their metabolic activity, whether the phenol caused cell death, whether the phenol had an effect on levels of HER2 protein and whether or not HER2 protein was activated in the presence of the phenol. The results from these tests were compared with those from tests performed on breast cancer cells that were not cultured with the phenols.
How Phenols In Olive Oil Can Get To Work
This study found that phenols extracted from extra virgin olive oil have an effect on HER2-positive breast cancer cells grown in culture in the laboratory. The researchers found that some single phenolic compounds (including hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol and others) and all the polyphenols (several phenols joined together) from extra virgin olive oil induced “strong tumouricidal effects” in breast cancer cells that had HER2 protein on their surface. The phenols also reduced the levels of HER2 protein and its activation.
The researchers concluded that the phenols in extra virgin olive oil have the ability to cause degradation of the HER2 protein on breast cancer cells. This may mean they can be used as a basis for the design of new HER2-targeting agents.