Mediterranean Diet Cuts Breast Cancer Risk Study Suggests

A new study suggests that consuming a Mediterranean diet on a regular basis can have a significant impact on the chances of conducting breast cancer.

Researchers in the Netherlands studied data involving over 60,000 women aged 55-69 over a period of two decades.

At the start of the study, details of the women’s diet, physical activity and other cancer-related risk factors were collected.

Scientists then compared the diets of over 2,000 women who went on to develop breast cancer with a control group of women that did not.

And researchers discovered that those consuming a Mediterranean diet, or similar, were 40% less likely to develop one particular form of breast cancer, namely oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

Of course, it should be emphasised that the effect of diet and other lifestyle factors can be difficult to quantify in such a study, but this research still suggests that this is an interesting dataset.

Scientists leading the study attempted to account for other factors, but it is impossible to achieve this in a holistic fashion.

This is not the first time that the Mediterranean diet has been linked with health benefits, with the emphasis on olive oil, fruit, vegetables and whole grains considered to be particularly beneficial.

The study was carried out by researchers from Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

Funding was provided by the Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds Nederland, as part of the World Cancer Research Fund International grant programme.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Cancer.

While the research has attracted a great deal of media attention, reportage has been somewhat misleading.

Most sources have failed to notice that the link has only been made with one specific form of breast cancer.

The researchers concluded that their “findings support an inverse association between [Mediterranean diet] adherence and, particularly, [oestrogen] receptor-negative breast cancer. This may have important implications for prevention because of the poorer prognosis of these breast cancer subtypes.”

While the study undoubtedly has weaknesses, its large scale does provide some statistical significance.

It is notable that a Mediterranean diet is similar to the government’s healthy eating advice set out in the Eatwell Guide, which also involves eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and not too much red meat or sugary foods.

Thus, it seems plausible that a Mediterranean diet could indeed have a positive impact on breast cancer.


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