Thanks to the new study, we can now add breast cancer prevention to the long list of benefits that come from consuming the Mediterranean diet. In the study, researchers assessed the effect a Mediterranean diet rich in extra virgin olive oil had on the risk of breast cancer among women in Spain.
The details of the study are available in an online article published by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Before we go into details about the study, let’s take a closer look at how the Mediterranean diet and olive oil impact health.
Mediterranean diet health benefits
- Lowered risk of type-2 diabetes
- Lowered risk of high blood pressure
- Lowered risk of elevated blood cholesterol
- Helps prevent obesity
- Cardiovascular disease prevention
- Lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
- Increased longevity
Olive oil health benefits
- Improves bone mineralization, prevents osteoporosis
- Reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
- Decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- Rich in antioxidants, fights inflammation
- Helps protect against type-2 diabetes
The above are just a few of the known health benefits. As the leading cause of death in women, breast cancer is under constant study. A number of studies have been done on the risk factors of breast cancer, and many of the studies point to diet as a significant yet modifiable risk factor. Having said that, the epidemiologic evidence on the effect of specific dietary factors on breast cancer is inconsistent.
For the study, the team divided 4,152 women aged between 60 and 80 years who had a high risk of cardiovascular disease into three groups. The first group (1,476 participants) was given a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil – they were given one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week per family. The second group of 1,285 participants were put on a nut heavy Mediterranean diet – they were given 30 grams of mixed nuts per day (hazelnuts, almonds walnuts). The remaining 1391 participant in the third group were put on a low-fat diet.
The researchers followed the participants for nearly five years.
The study revealed that when compared to the control group (low-fat diet), the women eating the Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil had a 68 percent lower risk of malignant breast cancer. However, the women eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts did not show any significant risk reduction.
While the results of the study show a healthy association between an olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet and breast cancer, the scientist admit the study has many limitations. One of which is that the study cannot establish whether the observed beneficial effect was mainly due to the extra virgin olive oil or to its consumption within the context of the Mediterranean diet.
Which is why the authors feel these results need to be backed by more studies, especially long-term studies with a higher number of incident cases.
Also Read: Mediterranean diet gets top health score.