Mediterranean Diet May Prevent Type Of Breast Cancer According To New Study

The Mediterranean diet may lower risk of certain forms of breast cancer found in postmenopausal women according to a 20-year study published by the International Journal of Cancer.

Picture ofMediterranean diet rich in Omege-3 Foods
Mediterranean diet rich in Omege-3 Foods [Image by Autumnhoverter/Thinkstock]

Through analyzing decades of data compiled, researchers discovered a stunning link between the Mediterranean diet—consisting mostly of lean meats, olive oil, vegetables, and whole grains—and a significant reduction in the risk of the breast cancer linked to postmenopausal women.

In this latest study on the Mediterranean diet, researchers in the Netherlands focused on a specific type of breast cancer (estrogen/progesterone receptor subtypes, ER/PR) found in women past the menopausal stage. The study found that eating nuts, fruits, and fish—all foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet—was tied to lower rates of the breast cancer cases.

Why The Mediterranean Diet Is Good For Your Overall Health

The long-term health benefits of following the primarily plant-based Mediterranean diet have been known for some time. The Inquisitr recently reported that another study found evidence that the diet slowed brain shrinkage in seniors, aiding in the prevention and treatment of brain decline.

The Mediterranean diet is a favorite among researchers because it illustrates the links between what we eat and the presence of disease in the body. It is a diet that is most popular in countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain.

Illustration of Mediterranean Food Pyramid
Mediterranean food pyramid. [Image by Newannyart/Thinkstock]

Unlike the modern Western diet, which is laden with unhealthy oils and simple carbohydrates, the Mediterranean diet has grown in popularity due to its simpler and unprocessed food preparation and balance. The Mediterranean diet embraces good fats, such as olive and canola oils, as well as fiber-rich foods, such as chickpeas.

For instance, a typical day of meals that adheres to the Mediterranean diet might consist of whole-grain oatmeal and fruits for breakfast. A fresh and colorful salad with feta cheese and hummus clocking in at under 400 calories would be a typical lunch and dinner would consist of non-farmed salmon with brown rice and a mix of savory nuts.

The nutritionally rich foods found in the Mediterranean diet are packed with essential antioxidants and are key in reducing inflammation in the body, which is tied to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular ailments and obesity. Given its health benefits, it makes sense that researchers would study the Mediterranean diet's possible role in preventing breast cancer.

Decades of Breast Cancer Data

The Netherlands breast cancer study began in 1986 when diet and lifestyle history from 62,573 women ages 55-69 was compiled and studied annually until 2007. Researchers noted any diagnoses of cancer recorded through the Netherlands Cancer Registry and the Dutch Pathology Registry PALGA. At the same time, the study cohort made estimates on the number of study participants adhering to the Mediterranean diet through the years.

Among the study participants, 2,321 women ended up with breast cancer who did not have a family history of the disease. The researchers then looked at consumption of different types of foods found in the Mediterranean diet, excluding alcohol. The study was looking for foods that had an inverse correlation to the occurrence of the type of breast cancer being studied in postmenopausal women.

The researchers ultimately found that by eating foods found in the Mediterranean diet, a third of the total cases of the postmenopausal type of breast cancer could be prevented according to The Guardian. However, this same study also found that the diet would only reduce approximately 2 percent of all types of breast cancer.
In the US, breast cancer remains the most common form of cancer in women, with over 40,000 women succumbing to the illness annually. As researchers and physicians look for ways to treat and prevent further increases in breast cancer rates, it is expected that more studies examining the links between the foods we eat and our health will occur. For now, the role of the Mediterranean diet in optimizing health outcomes continues to provide positive news in the fight against breast cancer.

[Featured Image by kabVisio/Thinkstock]