Mediterranean Diet Cuts Female Cancer Risk by More Than Half
New research published in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that women who follow the healthy eating pattern/lifestyle known as the Mediterranean Diet may enjoy a 57% reduction in the risk of developing endometrial cancer. Italian scientists examined the diets of more than 5,000 women to determine which women followed the diet most closely. They then followed the women to see who would develop cancer of the womb (endometrial cancer).
The diet is comprised of whole foods, virtually no sugar, and very little meat or dairy. Important components include fruits/nuts, vegetables, cereals (whole grains), legumes, fish, olive oil, and moderate alcohol intake. Women who routinely consumed seven of nine beneficial food groups experienced the largest reductions in the risk of developing endometrial cancer. "Our research shows the impact a healthy balanced diet could have on a woman's risk of developing womb cancer,” said Dr Cristina Bosetti, lead author from the IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche, in a press release. “This adds more weight to our understanding of how our every day choices, like what we eat and how active we are, affect our risk of cancer.”
In their report, investigators note the diet is high in antioxidants, plant chemicals (phytochemicals), fiber, and unsaturated fats. These components are thought to play an important role in the diet’s beneficial effects on human health.
British commentators note that rates of endometrial cancer have roughly doubled in the United Kingdom since the early 1990s. "While we know that getting older and being overweight both increase a woman's risk of womb cancer, the idea that a Mediterranean diet could help reduce the risk needs more research. This is partly because this study was based on people remembering what they had eaten in the past,” said Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health information. “Cancer risk is affected by our age and our genes but a healthy lifestyle can also play a part in reducing the risk of some cancers. Not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, being active, eating healthily and cutting down on alcohol helps to stack the odds in your favor.”
M Filomeno, C Bosetti, E Bidoli, F Levi, D Serraino, M Montella, C La Vecchia, A Tavani. Mediterranean diet and risk of endometrial cancer: a pooled analysis of three italian case-control studies. British Journal of Cancer, 2015; 112 (11): 1816 DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2015.153