Doctors are studying the effects of a Mediterranean diet
A healthy diet and sufficient exercise are important for human health. Researchers have now found that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of one of the deadliest forms of breast cancer by up to 40 percent.
In their current study, scientists from Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of a dangerous form of breast cancer by 40 percent. The doctors published the results of their study in the medical journal "International Journal of Cancer".
Participants are monitored medically for twenty years
For their investigation, the experts monitored more than 62,000 women over a period of twenty years. This was to determine how the diet affects the risk of developing breast cancer.
Mediterranean diet protects against difficult to treat breast cancer
When subjects ate a Mediterranean diet that was rich in vegetable protein, fish and olive oil, the probability of developing so-called ER-negative breast cancer decreased by 40 percent, the researchers explain. This form of cancer is stimulated by the sex hormone estrogen and is considered to be more lethal and difficult to treat than so-called hormone-sensitive cancer.
Number of deaths from breast cancer in the UK
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women today. For example, in the UK, more than 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. 30 percent of those affected have ER-negative cancer and around 11,400 women die from breast cancer in the UK each year.
What foods are included in a Mediterranean diet?
It could help many affected women to eat a typical Mediterranean diet. This includes a high intake of vegetable proteins from nuts, lentils, beans and whole grains. In addition, women should consume a lot of fish and simple unsaturated fats (e.g. from olive oil). In addition, with such a form of nutrition, the intake of white bread, white rice, red meat and sweets is reduced to a minimum, the doctors explain.
Dietary patterns affect the risk of cancer
Our research can help show the public how eating patterns can affect our cancer risk, explains author Professor Piet van den Brandt from Maastricht University. We found a strong link between the Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the Dutch expert adds. This type of breast cancer usually has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer.
Women should avoid alcohol consumption
It is also important that women avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol is usually part of a traditional Mediterranean diet. However, there is a known link between breast cancer and alcohol, the scientists say. Previous evidence has shown that almost 12,000 cases of breast cancer in the UK could be prevented each year if women stopped drinking alcohol.
Prevention is the key to treating breast cancer
The current study shows that a Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of breast cancer - especially for subtypes of the disease with a generally poor prognosis. Breast cancer is so widespread that prevention seems to be the key in reducing the number of women with the condition. However, more research is needed to better understand the risk factors for different types of breast cancer subtypes, the researchers say.
Women need to recognize signs of breast cancer
Breast cancer is a complex disease. Not all types of the disease have the same triggers. A Mediterranean diet can play an important role in lowering the risk of this disease, experts say. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of cancer, but it does not guarantee prevention. For this reason, it is critical that women know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, doctors add. If suspected, those affected should urgently contact a doctor immediately. (as)