In addition to the other health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, prevention of breast cancer could now be added to the list.
We have previously reported on studies that have found beneficial effects of a Mediterranean diet on cognitive function and longevity. In addition, many studies have found positive effects of Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular health.
A study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, has reported that sticking to a Mediterranean diet could help to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. The study was conducted as a part of the PREDIMED trial, which is a randomised controlled trial that was carried out in Spain between 2003-2009, including over 4000 women between the ages of 60 and 80 years. The women were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or a reduced-fat diet, served as a control group.
The study reported that rate of breast cancer in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group was reduced, as was the rate of breast cancer in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group, compared with the control group. The greatest reduction in risk, however, was seen in participants who were consuming the Mediterranean diet that was supplemented with olive oil, which showed a 62% reduction in risk of malignant breast cancer. While there was a reduction in risk with the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group, this effect was not significant.
The authors report that this is the first study to show a preventive effect of diet on the incidence of breast cancer, and that a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil may have the potential to be a primary prevention measure for breast cancer.
“Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial” JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 14, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD