"Now, researchers say that eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with four tablespoons per day of extra-virgin olive reduces the risk of breast cancer."
By now, you’ve certainly heard of the Mediterranean diet – a pattern of eating that mostly emphasizes fish, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables and olive oil. Over the last few years, the evidence of its [the Mediterranean diet] benefits has been piling up. In 2013, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the diet can help protect against heart disease and a study published earlier this year revealed that the diet can help fight against memory loss.
Breast cancer is in fact the leading cause of female cancer burden and its incidence has increased by more than 20% worldwide since 2008. In a limited yet promising study, researchers at the University of Navarra in Spain have found a strong reduction in the risk of breast cancer as a result of adhering to the Mediterranean diet.
For this study, which was published in JAMA: Internal Medicine, Martinez Gonzales conducted a randomized, single-blind, controlled field trial at a primary health center in Spain from 2003 to 2009. He assigned about 4,282 women between the ages of 60-80 at high cardiovascular disease risk to follow either the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil, the Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts or a control low-fat diet.
Researches found that women following the Mediterranean diet (olive oil and mixed nuts combined) had a 68% lower relative risk of developing breast cancer compared to the control group. This was the first randomized trial finding an effect of a long- term dietary intervention on breast cancer incidence. The results suggest a beneficial effect of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil in the primary prevention of breast cancer.
Of course, no study is perfect. While there are certainly limitations to this study, most notably the fact that this was a non-diverse group of women, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and may also very well help prevent breast cancer. If anything, this study is a stepping stone for further research and a strong reminder that the Mediterranean diet can be implemented as a means to help reduce cardiovascular disease and improve general well-being.
As far as research, the next step is determining which compound or compounds in the Mediterranean diet could be most beneficial. Given that the group of women with the lowest rate of breast cancer consumed about four tablespoons of olive oil in their diet each day, researchers are contemplating whether it’s something in the extra-virgin olive oil. According to a study published in 2011, extra-virgin olive oil is essentially the fresh-squeezed juice of an olive or, fruit juice. Inside the juice is a range of potentially beneficial compounds known as polyphenols, which possess similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen. Though promising, these results still need confirmation by long-term studies with a higher number of incident cases.
At Medical Metabolic Specialists, we fully embrace and endorse the many health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. As shown in this study though, improving overall well-being requires time, patience and dedication to lifestyle change. To learn more about our approach to lifestyle intervention and the Mediterranean diet, stop by or give us a call today.
Medical Metabolic Specialists, located in Fort Collins, Colorado, is dedicated to using the latest scientific techniques to create a comprehensive, individualized. lifelong weight management program to improve your overall health.