Following a Mediterranean diet with olive oil was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in women in Spain, according to recent online article published by JAMA Internal Medicine. The study was conducted as part of the large PREDIMED trial, which tracked at-risk individuals for developing cardiovascular disease. Three groups were studied: one eating a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil, one with a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and a third control group consisting of a low fat diet. The results of the study which focused on 4,282 women of an average age of approximately 68 years old between 2003-2009, demonstrated that the group of women consuming a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil showed a 68% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those in the control diet. The group eating Mediterranean diet with nuts did not see a significant rate reduction, compared to the control group.
A Mediterranean diet is front-loaded with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, oils such as olive oil rather than saturated fats such as animal fats and butter. In addition, it consists of consuming fatty fish and seafood, and limiting consumption of red meats and sweets. Home cooking, fresh ingredients and minimizing processed food are essential.
This study is important because it is the first long-term dietary intervention initiative studying the relationship between diet and the incidence of breast cancer. The take away message is to think proactively how our diets affect our long-term health and can optimize health. For sure this study falls short in answering many of the questions we need moving forward, but is does provide a useful model in understanding that diet and health are interconnected. More long term studies are in order, but this data supports the increasing benefits of following a Mediterranean diet.
Estefanía Toledo, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Carolina Donat-Vargas, Pilar Buil-Cosiales, Ramón Estruch, Emilio Ros, Dolores Corella, Montserrat Fitó, Frank B. Hu, Fernando Arós, Enrique Gómez-Gracia, Dora Romaguera, Manuel Ortega-Calvo, Lluís Serra-Majem, Xavier Pintó, Helmut Schröder, Josep Basora, José Vicente Sorlí, Mònica Bulló, Merce Serra-Mir, Miguel A. Martínez-González. Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2015; 1 DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838