Photo: Tim Lucas/Flickr
The Mediterranean diet is known to protect against strokes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, kidney disease, obesity and diabetes. Adding to the list, a new research out on Monday shows that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil can lower the risk of breast cancer in women.
The concept of a Mediterranean diet has been taken from the healthy eating habits of people living in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea like Italy, France, Spain and Greece.
A Mediterranean diet specifies consumption of higher levels of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil and fish, along with moderate consumption of red wine. However, the diet places some restrictions on consumption of red meat, sweets and saturated fats.
As part of the new study, about 4,282 women, aged between 60 and 80, were asked to follow either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil (1,476) or mixed nuts(1,285); or a low-fat diet(1,391). Researchers from the University of Navarra and CIBEROBN in Spain closely monitored the participants for five years. During the period, they detected 35 new cases of malignant breast cancer cases among the participants.
Compared to the control group, the women who followed a Mediterranean diet along with extra virgin olive oil reduced their risk of developing the deadly disease by 68 percent.
Interestingly, the risk went further down with higher consumption of extra virgin olive oil. “For every additional 5 percent of calories from extra-virgin olive oil, the risk was reduced [by] 28 percent,” co-author of the study, Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez told Live Science. The authors assumed that polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil might have contributed to this occurrence.
Considering the small number of breast cancer patients identified by their research, the authors went on to conduct larger studies to re-confirm their findings.
Findings of the study have been reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women across the world. The deadly disease claimed 508,000 lives in 2011, according to a World Health Organization report. In 2012, nearly 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer were reported.