New Study Find Individuals Who Closely Follow A Mediterranean Diet Were 57% Less Likely To Have Breast Cancer
A recent case-controlled study conducted in Iran and published on Frontiers in Nutrition found a significant inverse association between the Mediterranean diet and breast cancer.
According to a summary in MindBodyGreen.com, this research shows individuals with the highest tertile of the Mediterranean diet score compared with those in the lowest tertile were 57% less likely to have breast cancer1. This relationship was most significant among postmenopausal women and the research claims the diet’s anti-inflammatory, estrogen-supportive, and antioxidant properties are most likely to be driving this impact.
It goes on to explain the significance of this study, saying:
Previous studies on the association between diet and breast cancer are mostly from Western populations where data from Middle East countries was not often included, hence why this study specifically set out to gather data on Iranian women, as the prevalence of breast cancer in Middle East countries is high2, yet the analytic data available is quite low.
The classic Mediterranean diet focuses on eating real, whole foods and is modeled after countries lining the Mediterranean Sea. It centers fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil, herbs, and spices and limits processed foods, red meat, and added sugars.
For this study, researchers enrolled 350 women with new cases of breast cancer (including stages I-IV) and 700 women to represent a control group with equal socioeconomic and age status.
A nutritionist then evaluated dietary intake using a 106-item Willett-format semi-quantitative dish-based food frequency questionnaire (SQ-FFQ), which was specifically created and validated for the Iranian population to create scores based on how closely participants follow the Mediterranean diet.
They computed scores of the Mediterranean diet based on nine diet components, including servings of fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts; ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) to saturated fatty acids (SFAs); and negative components, including grains, dairy, meats (including poultry and red meat) and processed meat. They then added those scores together to get the total Mediterranean diet value.
Our findings were aligned with the findings from a case-control study conducted by Turati et al. in Switzerland in which adherence to the Mediterranean diet was inversely associated with the risk of breast cancer3.MindBodyGreen
Regional studies like these are important, as dietary patterns vary greatly from country to country.
What Is The Mediterranean Diet So Healthy?
The Mediterranean Diet has been associated with so many potential health benefits including improved cardiovascular function, brain health and reduced inflammation. While the exact science behind why it may contribute to possible prevention of breast cancer are unclear, researchers note this protective effect may be due to the following:
- Anti-inflammatory properties: The Mediterranean diet contains foods that are high in MUFAs and omega-3 fatty acids4, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. “Inflammation is an important risk factor in the incidence of breast cancer5,” researchers say.
- Estrogen support: The Mediterranean diet is also rich in compounds that are known to support estrogen metabolic pathways and have estrogen-modulatory effects, which are protective against breast cancer, researchers say. This includes dietary fiber6, flavonoids, lignans, and resveratrol7.
- Antioxidants: Finally, the Mediterranean diet is chock-full of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, which also may have protective effects against breast cancer8.
More studies are needed to confirm these findings across different populations and dive deeper into what, exactly, makes this diet potentially cancer-protective.
The Mediterranean Diet has been praised as one of the healthiest diets in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. This way of eating, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, has been associated with a plethora of health benefits. One reason for this is that the Mediterranean Diet is low in processed foods and added sugars, which are linked to several negative health outcomes. Additionally, this diet is high in nutrients that are important for overall health, such as fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Finally, the Mediterranean Diet promotes a well-balanced and varied approach to eating, which can help people maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, and lower their risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
MindBodyGreen expressly noted that this research doesn’t mean following the Mediterranean diet will prevent breast cancer point blank. However, it does further support the power of eating whole foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats for overall health.
For more tips on how to get started on the Mediterranean Diet and some healthy recipe ideas, pop over to Morocco Gold here.