A study in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition associates the Mediterranean diet with lower risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
The data derive from the Greek portion of the massive EPIC study: European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and nutrition. Investigators followed almost 15,000 women for 10 years. No protective effect was seen for premenopausal women eating Mediterranean-style. The study at hand adds to prior evidence that the Mediterranean diet seems to protect against cancer of the breast, prostate, uterus, and colon/rectum.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Reference: Trichopoulou, Antonia, et al. Conformity to traditional Mediterranean diet and breast cancer risk in the Greek EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition) cohort. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published July 14, 2010. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29619
"I just wish we'd found this cancer a year ago"
The Mediterranean diet is associated with a 33% reduction in stomach cancer, according to a study
just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Stomach cancer (aka gastric cancer) is uncommon in the U.S. Most cases are advanced and incurable at the time of diagnosis. So prevention is ideal.
European investigators studied 485,000 people over the course of nine years, during which 449 cases of stomach cancer were found. Surveys determined how closely the food consumption of study participants tracked nine key components of the Mediterranean diet. Compared with people who had low adherence to the Mediterranean diet, those with high adherence had 33% less risk of developing stomach cancer.
The Mediterranean diet has long been associated with a lower risk of cancer: specifically, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and uterus. We can add stomach cancer to the list now.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Reference: Buckland, Genevieve, et al. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and risk of gastric adenocarcinoma within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 9, 2009, epub ahead of print. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28209
Researchers at Harvard and the University of Athens (Greece) report that the following specific components of the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower rates of death:
- moderate ethanol (alcohol) consumption
- low meat and meat product intake
- high vegetable consumption
- high fruit and nut consumption
- high ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat
- high legume intake
Minimal, if any, contribution to mortality was noted with high cereal, low dairy, or high fish and seafood consumption.
The researchers examined diet and mortality data from over 23,000 adult participants in the Greek portion of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition. You’ll be hearing more about the EPIC study for many years. Over an average follow-up of 8.5 years, 1,075 of participants died. 652 of these deaths were of participants in the lower half of Mediterranean diet adherence; 423 were in the upper half.
Alcohol intake in Greece is usually in the form of wine at mealtimes.
The beneficial “high ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat” stems from high consumption of olive oil and low intake of meat.
It’s not clear if these findings apply to other nationalities or ethnic groups. Other research papers have documented the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet in at least eight other countries over three continents.
The researchers don’t reveal in this report the specific causes of death. I expect those data, along with numbers on diabetes, stroke, and dementia, to be published in future articles, if not published already. Prior Mediterranean diet studies indicate lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Reference: Trichopoulou, Antonia, et al. Anatomy of health effects of the Mediterranean diet: Greek EPIC prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal, 338 (2009): b2337. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b2337.