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Mediterranean Diet Again Linked to Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Posted Aug 04 2010 7:20am
Numerous studies have reported that following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern might have a variety of health benefits.  While the majority of this research has reported benefits of the Mediterranean diet for heart health, emerging research suggests that the Mediterranean diet might protect against breast cancer development.  These studies have reported that diets rich in olive oil and fish, major components of the Mediterranean diet, might reduce breast cancer risk and that following a Mediterranean eating pattern might reduce postmenopausal breast cancer risk. 

A new breast cancer study examined the impact of a traditional Mediterranean diet on breast cancer risk .  One of the unique characteristics of this breast cancer study is that it was actually done in Greece, a Mediterranean country, while previous studies were apparently done in non-Mediterranean countries.  For this new breast cancer study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, breast cancer researchers followed nearly 15,000 women in Greece for an average of about 10 years.  Adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet was evaluated with a food frequency questionnaire.  The breast cancer researchers reported
  • When all women were included in the analysis, breast cancer risk was only modestly reduced by about 12%, which was not statistically significant.
  • Following a traditional Mediterranean diet did not reduce breast cancer risk in premenopausal women when they were analyzed separately.
  • Postmenopausal women closely following a traditional Mediterranean diet showed about a 22% reduction in breast cancer risk compared to women who did not closely follow the traditional Mediterranean diet.
This new breast cancer research continues to support the idea that a Mediterranean diet reduces breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.  Both studies that have looked at the Mediterranean diet as a whole or looked at individual components of a Mediterranean diet (olive oil, fish, vegetables, legumes etc.) has suggested that this type of diet might reduce breast cancer risk.  However, the research appears to show that the most benefit is seen in postmenopausal women.   It is currently unclear why the breast cancer fighting benefits of a Mediterranean diet might be greater in postmenopausal women than premenopausal women.  However, according to a related press release , the breast cancer researchers suggest that premenopausal women who develop breast cancer are often genetically vulnerable, which might override the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.  Nonetheless, this new breast cancer research continues to confirm the importance of following a healthy eating pattern for breast cancer protection.

Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer to find out about some of my favorite cancer fighting foods.
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